U.S. solar companies installed 3.8 GW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in Q3 – a 9% increase from Q2 installations – as the industry experienced a recovery from the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Q4 2020 report recently released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.
The report projects a record 19 GW of new solar capacity installations this year, representing a 43% year-over-year growth from 2019. Solar accounted for 43% of all new electric generating capacity additions through Q3 – more than any other electricity source.
“This report points to the incredible resilience of our companies and workers in the face of the pandemic and continued demand for clean, affordable electricity sources,” says Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “It also speaks to our ability to support economic growth – even in our darkest moments. While solar will continue to grow, the next administration and Congress have an opportunity to help the solar industry reach its Solar+ Decade goals, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and tackling the climate crisis.”
The residential solar market – which was the hardest hit by the business impacts of the pandemic – beat recovery expectations, growing 14% over Q2 – but remained below Q1 levels. The utility-scale market was the primary driver of Q3 installations with 2.7 GW of new capacity, representing 70% of all solar capacity brought online in Q3.
Sun Belt states are leading the way on new capacity additions this year, with Texas and Florida both installing more than 2 GW through Q3 – nearly the amount of solar that each of those states installed over 2018 and 2019 combined.
The utility-scale project pipeline ballooned to a record 69.2 GW. The U.S. is now forecast to reach 100 GW of cumulative installed solar capacity by mid-2021.