Unprecedented Growth of Residential Solar Panels in US
More and more American homeowners are deciding to go solar. The market for the installation of residential photovoltaic (PV) panels in the US marked another record at the end of the second quarter this year. This data indicates that the PV industry market is shifting to homeowner’s focus.
GTM Research, together with Solar Energy Industry Association trade group, have produced a report that states this year’s second quarter surpassed the first quarter, which had already set the record in the number of home-installed panels. In the past years, the majority of solar panels in the US were put up for utility electricity, which is then distributed through the grid.
The utility solar market is still far greater than the home one, with more than 700 megawatts in installed panels. At the same time, less than 500 megawatts were installed on home rooftops and in yards. To put this in perspective, all the solar panels taken together are producing little more than a large coal or gas plant.
However, the number of home-installed PV modules is constantly rising across the states. The most recent quarter showed a 70-percent growth over the years, and the number of states with active residential solar markets jumped from four in 2013 to ten.
The marked development of the home solar market is especially interesting because of the shift in control. When homeowners install solar panels on their roofs and in their yards, they take charge of the energy they use. They produce their own electricity and contribute to the decentralization of the energy generation. The utility companies provide the base structure for the grid, but they don’t own the generation.
This isn’t to say that utility solar market isn’t growing, because it is. However, there are fears that an unchecked boom could lead to a crash for the biggest of farms.
A significant subsidy which has helped numerous households achieve substantial energy independence amounts to 30 percent in federal tax credit for those who own a solar panel system. Unfortunately, this enticing incentive could fall to 10 percent in 2017.
Consequently to all this, power companies have rushed to build huge utility solar farms this year, which has over-inflated the market, whereas it’s possible it’ll become under-inflated in the future. Research company IHS published a report earlier that as of this summer the US plans to generate 32 gigawatts of solar power by the end of next year.
Some say that a solar-supportive President could be able to extend the 30-percent tax credit. Still, the uncertainty will leave its mark on the industry.
On the whole, this year’s combined growth of home- and utility-scale solar markets in the US has been extraordinary. The US solar farms and households are generating 20 gigawatts of solar energy and since the beginning of the year all the new sources of electricity production stemmed from solar panels.