US solar energy installations experienced a remarkable surge of 47% in the first quarter, as reported by industry analysts on Thursday. This remarkable growth can be attributed to an improvement in panel supplies, which alleviated industry gridlock and allowed numerous stalled large-scale projects to be finalized and connected to the grid.
According to a comprehensive analysis conducted by research firm Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the solar industry witnessed its most successful first quarter ever, with a staggering installation of 6.1 gigawatts (GW). This impressive capacity is sufficient to power over one million homes.
During the quarter, solar energy accounted for 54% of the new electric generating capacity in the United States, as highlighted in the report. Among all states, Florida emerged as the leader with the highest number of new installations.
Buoyed by this strong quarter, SEIA has revised its forecast for the year, projecting a total capacity of 29 GW instead of the previously estimated 28.4 GW.
In terms of installation breakdown, large-scale projects for utilities and major customers dominated with 3.8 GW, experiencing a remarkable 66% increase compared to the previous year.
This significant growth marks a considerable turnaround for the industry, which has been grappling with limited supplies of imported panels due to the implementation of legislation aimed at eradicating products made with forced labor.
According to the report, 12 GW of solar modules were imported during the first quarter, in contrast to the 29 GW imported throughout 2022.
Residential solar installations also witnessed an exceptional quarter, soaring by 30% to reach 1.6 GW. Homeowners in California, the largest market within the sector, rushed to install systems ahead of a new policy implementation in April, which reduced subsidies for panel owners.
However, SEIA cautioned that the industry is encountering a slowdown in several states due to economic uncertainties, with residential solar installations expected to increase by only 8% this year.
The SEIA report anticipates robust growth for the solar industry in the coming five years, largely thanks to renewable energy incentives outlined in President Joe Biden’s recently passed Inflation Reduction Act.
Growth rates are projected to hover in the low double digits between 2024 and 2028, with installations expected to triple by 2029 from their current levels.
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