Solar’s shining as it pulls ahead of US energy mix

Around 39% of new capacity added to the US grid in 2016 was solar energy. This nearly doubled solar’s previous record and topped all other sources of energy generation for the first […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

Around 39% of new capacity added to the US grid in 2016 was solar energy.

This nearly doubled solar’s previous record and topped all other sources of energy generation for the first time ever, according to a new report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

On average, one new megawatt of solar capacity became operational every 36 minutes in 2016.

The report suggests the growth, seen across dozens of states, came as a result of a surge in utility scale projects and price drops of nearly 20%, an all time low.

Over the next five years, the US solar market is expected to nearly triple in size, even with a predicted dip this year.

The report forecasts solar installations in 2017 will fall by 10% to 13.2GW, which would still be 75% more than was installed in 2015.

Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s President and CEO, said: “It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry. Prices dropped to all time lows, installations expanded in states across the country and job numbers soared.

“The bottom line is that more people are benefitting from solar now than at any point in the past and while the market is changing, the broader trend over the next five years is going in one direction and that’s up.”

A recent report suggests solar and electric vehicles ‘could halt fossil fuel growth by 2020’.