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GTM Research Reports US Solar Installation Slowdown

solar market installations Q3 2017

A solar installation slowdown is occurring in the United States, particularly in the residential sector. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association found that Q3 2017 has been the US solar industry’s toughest quarter in two years.

In the third quarter, 2,031 megawatts of PV were installed in the US — a 51% decrease year-over-year, GTM Research notes. The downturn has been caused by higher equipment prices, political uncertainty, and challenges in the residential market, according to current US Solar Market Insight report.

Competitive landscape restraints are causing slowdown in the residential PV segment. “First, segment-wide customer-acquisition challenges are constraining growth in major state markets,” the report says. “Second, national residential solar companies have slowed operations and pursued more profitable sales channels by pulling back on less-scalable channels such as door-to-door sales, which has come at the expense of growth.”

However, the report found that the non-residential PV sector actually grew 22% year-over-year with third-quarter installations reaching 481 megawatts. This was primarily driven by regulatory demand pull-in from approaching policy deadlines in California and the Northeast as well as the continued work on a community solar pipeline in Minnesota, GTM Research says.

For context, Q3 deployments were still 100 megawatts more than the total for all of 2011, but installations are no longer at the height they were last year. “GTM Research forecasts that 11.8 GWdc of new PV installations will come online in 2017, down 22% from a record-breaking 2016,” the report says.

Despite the slowdown, the GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association say they expect the total solar PV capacity installed in the US to double over the next five years. “By 2022, nearly 15 gigawatts of solar PV capacity will be installed annually.”

An annual energy study from Deloitte shows that demand for renewable energy from consumers and businesses is influencing decisions, independent of politics. “The demand for clean energy has passed the point of no return,” Marlene Motyka, US and global renewable energy leader and principal, Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics LLP, said about the study results. “It is an economic issue.”

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