The solar industry enjoyed its largest second quarter in history, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced, kicking off the annual Solar Power International (SPI) conference in Las Vegas. In the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, GTM Research and SEIA found that in Q2 2017, the industry installed 2,387 MW of solar photovoltaics (PV), the largest total ever recorded in the second quarter.
“That’s up 8% from last quarter and 12% from last year, which is notable considering how large 2016 was,” Shawn Rumery, SEIA director of research, said while presenting the report at SPI.
Growth was seen across all market segments. Commercial, residential, and utility-scale market segments experienced quarter-over-quarter growth. “The U.S. installed 2,044 MW of capacity in Q1. The non-residential and utility-scale market segments also posted year-over-year growth,” according to an SEIA release. The non-residential market grew 31% year-over-year, installing 437 MW.
Utility-scale solar accounted for 58% of PV instillations in the second quarter. “In fact, Q2 marked the seventh straight quarter in which the U.S. added more than a gigawatt (GW) of utility-scale solar,” the release says.
Rumery noted that many of the projects that came online in Q2 in the utility segment were actually meant to come online earlier. “Most of the projects coming online in the utility segment this past quarter were projects that were previously expected to come online in 2016 that were able to push to 2017 when the [investment tax credit] was ultimately extended,” he explained. “We are seeing growth in the pipeline and primarily projects with completion dates scheduled for 2019 to 2021.”
The report agrees with prior forecasts that the solar industry will triple its cumulative capacity in five years, though it is worth noting that the forecast could be changed significantly if the International Trade Commission recommends trade relief in the form of tariffs. Those tariffs “would result in a substantial downside revision to our forecast for all three segments,” according to the analysis.
—Abby L. Harvey is a POWER reporter.