Shattering previous records, the United States residential solar market grew 76 percent over the first quarter of 2014, installing 437 megawatts[i] (MW) of photovoltaics (PV) in the first three months of 2015. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association's (SEIA) Q1 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, released today, the U.S. installed 1.3 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV across all market segments.
The Northeastern United States experienced one of its worst winters in history, but this didn't prevent the residential solar market segment from having its best quarter of all time. The first quarter tends to be the slowest time of the year for the solar market due to weather, accounting and tax considerations. However, the residential market still grew 11 percent over last quarter, its previous high-water mark.
"Q1 2015 provided a clear glimpse into the future role that the residential sector will play as a primary driver of not only solar market growth, but the overall electricity generation mix." Said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research. "In the first quarter of this year, the U.S. installed more residential solar than natural gas, and solar on the whole accounted for 51 percent of all new electric generating brought online. We expect more than three million residential solar installations over the next five years, marked by a broader trend toward customer engagement in energy usage, generation and management."
The non-residential market installed 225 MW in the first quarter of the year. The report notes that the customer origination, project finance and state incentive reductions continue to challenge the segment. But despite these challenges, five of the six largest non-residential state markets did grow over Q1 2014.
Continuing to carry the largest share of the market, the utility segment installed 644 MW, which represents 49 percent of new PV capacity brought on-line in Q1 2015. Utility PV installations have now surpassed 500 MW for eight consecutive quarters. Yet, the highlight of this quarter for the segment was not what came on-line, but instead what was procured and added to the pipeline.
The report notes that there are now 25 project developers with pipelines in development of 100 MW or more. GTM Research expects a flurry of activity in the utility segment over the next 18 months ahead of the scheduled decline of the federal Investment Tax Credit.