June 19 (Renewables Now) - After a record-breaking first quarter, the US is expected to install over 13 GW of solar power generating capacity in direct current (DC) this year for a 25% increase over 2018, a new report shows.
According to the US Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the nation’s total installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity will more than double over the next five years. Annual installations are seen to reach 16.4 GW in 2021 before the residential federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) expires and the commercial tax credit falls to 10% for projects not yet under construction.
A total of 2.7 GW of solar PV was installed in the US in January-March 2019 which is more than the country has added in the first quarter of any other year. While this is a 37% decline from the final quarter of 2018, it represents a 10% rise from Q1 2018.
January-March 2019 was the third consecutive quarter during which more than 600 MW of residential solar was installed. More specifically, 603 MW of residential PV was deployed for a 6% year-on-year increase. Of that, 29% came from markets outside the top 10 solar states when it comes to capacity.
“Despite steady installations in Q1 2019, the residential market is still highly reliant on legacy state markets, such as California and the Northeast, which have seen only modest to flat growth over the past several quarters,” said Wood Mackenzie solar analyst Austin Perea.
Non-residential PV installation in Q1 amounted to 438 MW, making it the lowest quarter since Q1 2017. The authors of the report point at policy shifts in states like California, Massachusetts and Minnesota as the reason for the weaker performance in this segment. New community solar mandates in New York, Maryland, Illinois and New Jersey, though, are expected to help improve the situation as from 2020.
As per utility-scale installations, 1.6 GW were added to make up 61% of all PV installations in the three-month period. At present, there are 4.7 GW of large-scale projects under construction.
Wood Mackenzie senior solar analyst Colin Smith said the announcement of plans by many states to achieve 50% to 100% renewable energy or zero-carbon standards have so far not led to an uptick in RPS-driven procurement.