7,286 megawatts of solar PV was installed in the USA in 2015 – that’s nearly 50% more than Australia’s entire solar panel capacity.
The results, announced by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), represent the largest annual total ever; 17% above 2014.
The stunning figures were released ahead of the March 9 release of the U.S. Solar Market Insight report.
“Without a doubt, 2015 was a monumental year for the U.S. solar industry, and perhaps what’s most amazing is that we’re only getting started,” said SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch.
The residential solar market was an outstanding performer; growing 66 percent year-over-year. At more than two gigawatts, the residential segment represented 29 percent of the total U.S. solar market – the largest proportion since 2009.
The non-residential market, including commercial, exceeded the 1 GW mark but remained flat. The utility-scale sector grew six percent year-over-year with 4GW capacity and accounted more than half of all solar PV installed in 2015.
2015 also saw the first time that solar eclipsed natural gas capacity additions, with the clean power technology representing 29.5 percent of all new electricity generation capacity in the U.S. last year.
All told, the USA’s cumulative solar PV installations had exceeded 25 GW by the end of 2015; more than twelve times installed capacity at the end of 2010 (2GW).
In addition to generating clean power, the solar industry has also been a massive jobs engine in the United States.
Last month we mentioned the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2015, which states the nation’s solar workforce grew to a total of nearly 209,000 last year. The solar sector now boasts three times the number employed in the coal mining industry and also more than the oil and gas extraction industry.
The future of solar power in the USA continues to look bright says the SEIA. Roughly 20,000 MW of solar capacity is forecast to come online in the USA over the next two years and more than 16 states are expected to exceed the 100 MW mark in 2016, up from 9 states in 2014.