For the first time, there was more residential solar installed in the U.S. than commercial. There were 1,330 total megawatts of PV installed through the first quarter, with residential PV of 232 megawatts and commercial at 225. The remainder was concentrated solar power or utility projects.
The milestone is due to the ongoing strength of the residential sector versus the volatility in the commercial market. However, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association both expect the commercial market to rebound and exceed the residential when the tally is done at the end of 2014.
The figures were released as part of their joint Q1 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight report.
GTM Research Senior Vice President Shayle Kann says that solar accounted for almost three quarters of all new U.S. electric capacity in the first quarter of 2014, and is a further indication of the increasing role that solar is playing. Interestingly, more than 1/3 of residential PV installations came on-line without any state incentive for the first time ever in Q1 2014, the highest ever.
Both groups agree that 2014 is off to a strong start and anticipate that the total amount of gigawatts of installed PV for 2014 to be 6.6, up 39 percent from 2013.
“Solar energy is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power 3 million American homes, while creating thousands of new jobs nationwide and pumping nearly $15 billion a year into the U.S. economy,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Solar is also providing a big boost for our environment. The 14,800 megawatts of solar currently installed in the U.S. can generate enough pollution-free electricity to displace 18 billion pounds of coal or 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline. That’s the equivalent of removing 3.5 million passenger cars off our roads and highways. For states trying to meet new, enhanced air quality standards, solar can be a real game-changer.”