The United States solar industry installed nearly two megawatts of new capacity every hour through the third quarter of 2016, for a total of 4.143 GW over a record three-month period, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association reveal in the latest in their quarterly series of U.S. Solar Market Insight reports.
That equates to a megawatt every 32 minutes. And “the pace is even faster today, with the fourth quarter on track to surpass this past quarter’s historic total,” Greentech Media reports.
“The solar market now enjoys an economically winning hand that pays off both financially and environmentally, and American taxpayers have noticed,” said SEIA Interim President Tom Kimbis. “With a 90% favourability rating and 209,000+ jobs, the U.S. solar industry has proven that when you combine smart policies with smart 21st century technology, consumers and businesses both benefit.”
The report points to the utility sector as the source of 77% of the new capacity, with an “unprecedented rate of project completion” driving industry growth. GTM Research expects utilities to commission another 4.8 GW of photovoltaic solar in the last three months of the year, more than their entire installed capacity for 2015.
“Driven by a large pipeline of utility PV projects initially procured under the assumption of a 2016 federal ITC expiration, the third quarter of 2016 represents the first phase of this massive wave of project completion—a trend that will continue well into the first half of 2017,” said Cory Honeyman, GTM’s associate director of U.S. solar.
The Washington Post headlined its report on the GTM study with a declaration that the U.S. solar industry “isn’t afraid of Trump.” Kimbis told reporter Chelsea Harvey the SEIA expects business as usual under the new administration.
“We do not anticipate the Trump presidency impacting negatively or positively the growth of solar,” he said. “In fact, we think that no matter who’s in the White House, the solar industry is going to continue to grow tremendously.”
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that both the solar and wind industries had tilted their campaign donations more to Republican Congressional candidates than to Democrats during the 2016 election cycle.