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Solar Energy Has Banner Year and Five Year Forecast is Even Better

solar panelsSolar capacity just keeps growing. The Solar Industry Industries Association said that capacity doubled in 2016, compared to a year earlier.

The reason? Utility scale solar is expanding while the price of solar equipment is falling, by 20%, which makes such equipment the cheapest it has ever been. Utility-scale solar is defined by that which must attach to the grid before being sent to homes and businesses.

The next fives, meanwhile, are expected to see a tripling of solar capacity, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association in their U.S. Solar Market Insight 2016 Year-in-Review report.

“It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO, in a release. “Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country and job numbers soared. The bottom line is that more people are benefiting from solar now than at any point in the past, and while the market is changing, the broader trend over the next five years is going in one direction – and that’s up.”

“Though utility PV will reset from an origination perspective starting in 2017-2018, distributed solar is largely expected to continue to grow over the next few years due to rapid system cost declines and a growing number of states reaching grid parity,” added Corey Honeyman, Associate Director of GTM Research, in the same statement. “That said, ongoing NEM and rate design battles – in conjunction with a declining incentive environment for non-residential PV – will continue to present risks to distributed solar growth.”

In 2016, 22 states installed solar capacity of 100 megawatts or more. In 2010, that number was two. The states include Georgia, Minnesota, South Carolina and Utah.

By 2019, the U.S. solar market is expected to resume year-over-year growth across all market segments that include PV rooftop and utility scale. And by 2022, 24 states will be home to more than 1 GW of operating solar PV, up from nine today, the release says. 

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