REPORT - US adds 2 GW solar power in Q1, prices keep falling
Solar system. Author: Oregon Department of Transportation. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.
The US installed 2,044 MW of PV capacity in January-March 2017, a quarter in which utility-scale system prices fell below USD 1 (EUR 0.89) per watt for the first time.
A report by GTM and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) shows the country installed 563 MW of residential solar, 399 MW of non-residential solar, and 1,082 MW of utility-scale solar power plants. California is the leader in total deployments with 507 MW for the quarter, followed by North Carolina and Arizona.
The capacity is given in direct current (DC).
Residential installations were down 11% quarter-on-quarter and 17% year-on-year. Some of that can be attributed to installers pulling back operations in unprofitable geographies, and to customer acquisition challenges in mature residential state markets such as California.
Both the residential and non-residential segments are expected to experience year-over-year growth, the report said. Meanwhile, “utility solar is on the cusp of another boom in procurement,” according to Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s associate director of US solar. This is because many utility solicitations are focused on maximising the number of projects that can come online with a 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in 2019.
THE (BRIGHT) FUTURE
“With its cost-competitiveness, we know solar will continue to play a growing role in America’s energy portfolio,” said SEIA head Abigail Ross Hopper. GTM Research expects 12.6 GW to come online in 2017, down by 10% on 2016’s boom. By 2022, over 18 GW of solar PV capacity are forecast to be installed annually.
The report, however, warns that the trade dispute initiated by Suniva may cloud the long-term outlook for US solar. If approved as initially filed, the petition will lift the overall system cost and result in “substantial downside revisions” to the expected residential, commercial and utility solar installations.
For now solar costs keep falling as shown in the table.