The US residential solar market is up a record-breaking 76 percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the first quarter of 2014, with 437 MW of PV installations, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Q1 US Solar Market Insight Report. The US installed 1.3 GW of solar PV across all market segments, marking Q1 2015 the sixth consecutive quarter in which the US added more than 1 GW of PV installations.
Despite the Northeastern United States experiencing one of its worst winters in history, the residential solar market segment had its best quarter of all time, growing 11 percent over the previous quarter.
The non-residential and utility segments were more impacted by some of the market’s usual seasonality. The non-residential market installed 225 MW in the first quarter of the year. Customer origination, project finance and state incentive reductions continue to challenge the segment. Despite these challenges, five of the six largest non-residential state markets grew over Q1 2014.
The utility segment continues to hold the largest share of the market, with 644 MW — 49 percent — of new PV capacity brought online in Q1 2015. Utility PV installations have now surpassed 500 MW for eight consecutive quarters.
There are now 25 project developers with installations of 100 MW or more in their pipelines. GTM Research expects a flurry of activity in the utility segment over the next 18 months ahead of the scheduled decline of the federal Investment Tax Credit.
Other key findings from the report:
- The residential and utility PV market segments each added more capacity than the natural gas industry brought online in Q1 2015.
- Collectively, more than 51 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the US came from solar in Q1 2015.
- 66,440 individual solar systems came online in Q1 2015, bringing the total to nearly 700,000 nationwide.
- The average cost for a residential solar system is now $3.48/watt, 10 percent lower than this time last year.
- More than 5 GW of centralized PV has now been procured by utilities based on solar’s economic competitiveness with fossil-fuel alternatives.
- Through Q1 2015, nearly one-fourth of cumulative residential solar installations have now come online without any state incentives.
GTM Research forecasts that PV installations will reach 7.9 GW in 2015, up 27 percent over 2014.