Solar power station - photovoltaics

A Look at US Solar’s Rapid Growth Over The Last Six Years

Katherine DeMetre | Infocast Events

The US solar industry has grown exponentially in the last six years.

Utility-scale solar installations grew at an annualized rate of 72 percent between 2010 and 2016, reported the Energy Information Administration. Although the fist utility-scale solar plants were installed in the ’80s, more than half of them came online over the last two years.

Solar now makes up two percent of all utility-scale electric generation, with 21.5 GW in operation as of December 2016. Of the 25.1, 7.6 GW came online in 2016.

California, the leading solar state, has deployed a significant amount of solar capacity in the recent years, likely due to renewable portfolio standards or state renewable tax credits. Last year, California topped the list of states solar capacity with a reported 9.8 GW capacity.

In addition, the federal government has provided a 30 percent investment tax credit since 2005, but is will likely phase out by 2022.

Even with the growth, solar only provides 0.9 percent of all electrical generation, due to its timing with sunlight and changing of the seasons. Some systems are now paired with energy storage systems for greater operational flexibility.

As for small-scale solar system, they grew 3.4 GW in 2016, with an estimated 13.1 GW of installed capacity.