The solar energy market has hit a remarkable milestone, hitting 2 million solar photovoltaic (PV) installations (residential, commercial and utility-scale solar), representing 70 gigawatts (GW) across the United States this year, according to a May 9 press release from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and energy research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.
The solar PV market has experienced an incredibly steep rise over the last decade. While it took the industry 40 years to hit 1 million PV installations, accomplished in 2016, the market has doubled in the three years since then.
“The rapid growth in the solar industry has completely reshaped the energy conversation in this country,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president and CEO.
The SEIA and Wood Mackenzie expect the rapid growth in solar to continue.
“This $17 billion industry is on track to double again in five years,” said Ross Hopper, referencing Wood Mackenzie’s expectation that there will be 3 million solar PV installations in 2021 and 4 million in 2023.
As an early adopter, California has been a major thrust behind the country’s solar PV industry. Giving Florida a run for the title of Sunshine State, California accounted for 51 percent of the first million PV installations. The market has diversified in recent years. California was still responsible for a hefty portion (43 percent) of the second million installations, but its share has dropped in large part due to a growing residential sector across a variety of states.
South Carolina, for example, had only 1,160 cumulative installations in 2016. Today, the state can boast 15 times that amount with 18,000 PV systems and another 22,000 expected to be installed over the next five years.
Texas, Utah, Florida, Rhode Island and Maryland are also mentioned for having fast-growing PV markets, having a combined growth from around 50,000 installations to more than 200,000.
Sunny California is expected to lead the nation in the PV market in the next five years. However, the remaining top 10 state markets are expected to see faster growth. Nearly 750,000 installations are expected in those markets over the next 5 years, compared to 500,000 installations over the last 5 years.