Distributed Energy Resources

U.S. solar market sets first quarter installation record

The U.S. solar market installed 3.6 gigawatts (GW) of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the first quarter of 2020, representing its largest first quarter ever in the U.S.

According to theĀ U.S. Solar Market Insight Q2 2020 report, released last week by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, the coronavirus pandemic is having a substantial impact on the U.S. solar industry. Construction has been delayed, customer demand has dropped and access to financing for projects of all sizes has faced difficulty.

Forecasts show that in 2020 the residential and non-residential markets will see 25% and 38% decreases in year-over-year installation volumes, respectively, as the segments face challenges posed by work stoppages, permitting delays and drops in consumer demand.

Distributed markets are expected to see a combined 32% less solar installed in 2020 than forecast before the pandemic.

However, Wood Mackenzie forecasts 33% growth in 2020 overall due to the strong performance of the utility-scale segment, which is expected to account for more than 14 GW of new installations this year.

Record utility-scale procurement totals in 2019 and Q1 2020 positioned the segment for a record year, even as large-scale projects face some construction delays and challenges in financing and developing early-stage projects, SEIA reported.

Beyond 2020, all market segments face uncertainty caused by COVID-19, resulting in a downward revision of 3.6 GW to the 2020-2025 forecasts relative to last quarter.

Growth will be contingent on economies reopening, recovery of consumer and business demand, financial market stability and a resumption of growth in electricity demand, SEIA said.

In total, the U.S. solar market will install 113 GW of solar from 2020-2025, a loss of 3.6 GW relative to the 2019 Year in Review report.