U.S. Solar Industry Is Growing Again, Albeit More Slowly

After a year of uncertainty over federal tax reform, tariffs on imported technology, and state-level policy changes, the U.S. solar energy industry appears to be stabilizing, adding 2.5 gigawatts of capacity in the first quarter of 2018. 

This represents an annual growth of 13 percent and accounts for 55 percent of all new U.S. electricity capacity during that period, according to a new report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Installation of new residential solar energy capacity remained flat in the first quarter of 2018 — a trend that experts said is actually good news following a 15 percent decline last year, Greentech Media reported.

“Coming off a year in which we saw such a downturn and consistent quarterly contraction, the news that the residential solar space was flat in Q1 is actually pretty good news,” said GTM Research senior solar analyst Austin Perea. “What that potentially shows is some of the bleeding may have stopped in the residential segment. It’s either stopped or slowing.”

Non-residential solar photovoltaics added 509 megawatts of new capacity in the first quarter, up 23 percent from this time last year, driven largely by a surge in community solar projects. Utility-scale operations added 1,406 megawatts of capacity, marking the 10th consecutive quarter in which the utility sector added more than 1 gigawatt of solar energy. The new report estimates that utilities will install 6.6 gigawatts of new solar capacity by year’s end.