The solar energy sector in the United States witnessed a remarkable surge in installations during the first quarter, soaring by an impressive 47%, as outlined in a recent industry report.
This growth can be attributed to the alleviation of panel supply constraints, which had previously hindered progress and prevented the completion and connection of several significant projects to the grid.
According to a comprehensive analysis conducted by research firm Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) trade group, the solar industry experienced its most successful first quarter to date, installing a staggering 6.1 gigawatts (GW) of capacity. To put this figure into perspective, it is enough to power over 1 million homes.
During the quarter, the solar sector accounted for a substantial 54% of new electric generating capacity in the United States, with Florida leading the way in terms of new installations.
Following this strong performance, SEIA has slightly increased its forecast for the year, now expecting a total installation capacity of 29 GW compared to the previously projected 28.4 GW.
Large-scale projects catering to utility companies and other major customers were at the forefront of installations, accounting for 3.8 GW, representing a significant 66% increase from the previous year. This growth marks a significant turnaround for the industry, which has grappled with limited supplies of imported panels due to the enforcement of a law aimed at curbing products made with forced labor.
The report highlights that 12 GW of solar modules were imported during the first quarter, a decrease from the 29 GW imported throughout the entirety of 2022.
Residential solar installations also experienced a remarkable quarter, surging by 30% to reach a capacity of 1.6 GW. In California, the largest market for residential solar, homeowners hurried to have systems installed before the implementation of a new policy in April that reduced subsidies for panel owners.
However, the industry is witnessing a slowdown in several states due to economic uncertainties, according to SEIA. As a result, residential solar installations are projected to increase by only 8% this year.
Looking ahead, SEIA anticipates robust growth for the industry over the next five years, primarily driven by the renewable energy incentives outlined in US President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. Growth rates are expected to reach the low teens between 2024 and 2028, with installations tripling from their current levels by 2029, as stated in the report.
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