Peter Cade | Stone | Getty Images
U.S. solar panels hit a record high in 2020 as cheap economics, supportive measures, and strong demand in the second half of the year offset the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report released Tuesday by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenize, installations in 2020 increased 43% year over year, hitting a record 19.2 gigawatts of new capacity.
In the fourth quarter alone, the US added a little more than 8 gigawatts of output – a new quarterly record. To put the number in context, 7.5 gigawatts were added throughout 2015. One gigawatt is enough to supply around 190,000 households with electricity. A solar capacity of 97.2 GW is currently installed in the USA, which is sufficient to supply around 17.7 million households with electricity.
California, Texas, and Florida were the top three states for annual solar supplements for the second year in a row. Virginia and North Carolina rounded out the top 5.
After slowing down in the second quarter as the pandemic stalled, Solar saw a record-breaking sales pipeline in the second half of the year, carried by customers interested in home improvement. The authors of the report assume that this dynamic will likely continue in the second half of the year until 2021.
In the solar energy sector, the annual capacity expansions increased by 65% compared to the previous year.
“The recent two-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) will result in stronger solar adoption through 2025,” said Michelle Davis, senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie, referring to the tax credits that were due in December as part of coronavirus relief and the government The expenditure package was extended.
According to the report, the two-year extension of the loan at its current level between 2021 and 2025 will result in a 17% increase in projections for solar use.
In the US, solar accounted for 43% of all new power generation capacity added in 2020, the largest proportion of all new power generation capacity. In many places today, solar is the cheapest form of new energy.
“Residential solar energy sales continue to exceed expectations as credit providers bring attractive products to market, interest in renovations increases and customers suffering from blackouts due to extreme weather events seek energy resilience,” the report said.
For the first time, SEIA and Wood Mackenzies report also looked at growth projections through 2030, forecasting that the US solar market will quadruple from current levels by the end of the decade.
The growth is expected to be spread across all markets as customers, utilities, states, and businesses push to decarbonize the network. President Joe Biden called for a zero-emission power sector by 2035 as part of his $ 2 trillion infrastructure and climate package unveiled last July.
“The compelling economics of decentralized and utility-scale solar and decarbonization commitments from numerous stakeholders will result in a landmark installation rate of over 50 GWDC by the end of the decade,” added Davis of Wood Mackenzie.