I’ve spent the last 10 years in the solar industry and, as many of you know, it’s been an industry that has had its ups and downs. There’s a reason the term “solar coaster” is actually a meaningful description of the peaks and valleys of an industry that has encountered its share of growing pains.
But I’ve been consistent in saying that now is the best possible time to be in the solar industry, and the recent findings of the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the data from the first quarter of 2019 indicates that I’m right.
Since it was first launched, the Solar Market Insight Report is the most anticipated quarterly report by the solar industry. It gives us a sense of what kind of year it might be and how well we might do in the future. And based on the first quarter of this year’s numbers, 2019 may go down as one of the most historic years in the solar industry.
In the first three months of the year, the United States installed 2.7 GW of solar PV. Read that again: 2.7 GW of solar PV. If that seems like an impressive number to you, you’re right. It’s the most solar installed in a first quarter ever.
With that number already on the board, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Woods Makenzie (which conducts the Solar Market Insight Report for the association) predict that 2019 will see a 25% growth over 2018 and that more than 13 GW of installations will be completed by the end of the year.
FIGURE: U.S. PV capacity installed in the first quarter, Q1 2010 – Q1 2019 (MWdc)
But that’s not even the most impressive number. During the first quarter, we hit the 2 million installation mark, a mere three years after we broke through the 1 million installation ceiling. Current predictions have us breaking the 3 million installation threshold in 2021 and 4 million by 2023—but if we can keep up the pace we’ve started the year with, I think those projections may be a bit conservative.
Finally, Woods Mackenzie predicts that the total installed PV capacity will more than double over the next four years, reaching 16.4 GW in 2021. Such growth is phenomenal and would have been virtually unthinkable even five years ago.
SEIA has boldly declared the 2020S are going to be the Solar Decade, but I believe the industry’s progress is much longer term than that. At Standard Solar, we’ve long held that the 21st Century will be the Solar Century, and numbers like this just give more support to that way of thinking.
So, let’s raise a glass to the hard-working solar industry that got us off to such a great start in 2019. May the pace of installations continue, and may we shatter our year-on-year growth records as we go.
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