The U.S. solar market continues to grow, albeit slowing down slightly. Remarkably low prices for utility-scale systems have encouraged this and led to an additional 2 GW of solar capacities in the first quarter of 2017 alone.
The U.S. solar market is growing steadily. While the growth has slowed down a little bit over in the first quarter of 2017, it was still the sixth consequent quarter. This made solar the second-largest renewable energy source, right after natural gas. As a result it creates jobs 17 times faster than the U.S. economy.
Sinking prices encourage solar market growth
The further the market grows, the further the prices for utility-scale systems drop, sinking to less than 1 USD per watt – a first. Overall, 2016 was a record year and is unlikely to be beaten. In the first quarter of tis year, more than 500 MW of residential PV were installed, which is lower than the first quarter of 2016. Non-residential PV grew as well, and by as much as 29%, but was overshadowed by last year’s results. More than half of the PV installed in the first quarter was on a utility-scale.
Great expectations for the future
GTM Research, the leading market analysis and advisory firm on the transformation of the global electricity industry, is expecting a total growth of 12.6 GW for 2017. While this is less than last year, it will still cause the capacity to nearly triple over the next five years.
Suniva petition represents risk for market
However, a petition started by Suniva, a manufacturer of high-efficiency crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar cells and high-power solar modules, could strongly affect the market’s growth. The petition asks for a minimum import price of $0.78/W for crystalline silicon PV modules. Should it be successful, system costs could increase by 13% to 35%, depending on the segment. As for now, it is not certain how the U.S. International Trade Commission will ultimately rule on the petition.
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