U.S. adds more than 2 gigawatts of solar capacity in Q1 2017

The U.S. installed 2,044 megawatts of solar PV in Q1 2017 to reach 44.7 gigawatts of total installed capacity, enough to power 8.7 million American homes.

According to a newly published U.S. Solar Market Insight Report—through a collaborative effort by Greentech Media (GTM Research) and Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA)—the United States solar market added 2,044 megawatts of new capacity in the first quarter (Q1) of 2017.

Following a rapid growth across the solar industry in 2016.

The report adds that prices continue to fall to new lows, as installations grow, with utility-scale system prices dropping below the $1 per watt barrier for the first time.

Q1 was the sixth straight quarter in which more than two gigawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) and more than one gigawatt of utility-scale PV was installed.

The residential and non-residential PV markets are both expected to experience year-over-year growth, even as the quarterly numbers saw a drop from last year’s record-setting pace, the report said.

The non-residential solar market—which includes commercial, industrial and community solar installations—grew 29 percent year-over-year, but was down 39 percent from a record high fourth quarter 2016.

More than a half-gigawatt of residential PV was installed in the quarter, down 17 percent from the first quarter of last year.

Part of the slowdown can be attributed to national installers pulling back operations in unprofitable geographies and customer acquisition challenges in more mature residential state markets like California.

Forecasts indicate that 12.6 gigawatts will come online in 2017, 10 percent less than 2016’s boom.

Total installed U.S. solar PV capacity is expected to nearly triple over the next five years, and by 2022, more than 18 gigawatts of solar PV capacity will be installed annually.

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