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Residential Solar Electricity Installations Growing

Residential solar installations have grown in 18 of the last 19 quarters, reports a solar industry trade group.

The United States installed 1,354 megawatts of solar photovoltaics in the third quarter of 2014, up 41% over the same period last year, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, prepared by GTM Research, a research and consulting firm, and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“Solar’s continued, impressive growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment tax credit, net energy metering and renewable portfolio standards,” Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, said in a Dec. 9 statement accompanying the release of the report.

The report tracks installations across three market segments: utility-scale, residential and non-residential which includes commercial, government and non-profit installations. Historically, the U.S. utility-scale market segment has accounted for the majority of PV installations, the trade group noted, and this trend continues. The U.S. installed 825 MW of utility-scale projects, up from 540 MW in Q3 2013. This marks the sixth straight quarter in which utility-scale PV has accounted for more than 50% of the national total.

The U.S. residential market exceeded 300 MW in a quarter for the first time in history, according to the report. More than half of this total came online without any state incentive, the report noted. Residential continues to be the most reliable market segment, now growing 18 out of the past 19 quarters. GTM Research forecasts it to exceed the non-residential segment in annual installations for the first time in more than a decade.

“Residential solar has become a remarkably consistent, growing market” said Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research. “By the end of this year [2014] there will be more than 600,000 homes outfitted with solar, and we see no signs of a slowdown [in 2015]. By 2017, we expect the residential sector to be the largest in the U.S. solar market.”

The non-residential market continues its struggles of late, due in part to incentive depletion in California and Arizona. Installations in the segment were down 3% over Q3 2013. However, GTM Research and SEIA do expect year-over-year growth for the non-residential market.

The report forecasts the U.S. to install 6.5 GW of PV in 2014, a 36% increase over the historic 2013.

According to the report, the third quarter of 2014 was the nation’s second largest quarter ever for PV installations and brings the country’s cumulative solar PV capacity to 16.1 gigawatts, with another 1.4 GW of concentrating solar power capacity. Through the first three quarters of the year, solar represents 36% of new capacity to come on-line, up from 29% in 2013 and 9.6% in 2012, according to the report.

The Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. For more information, visit the SEIA website at seia.org.

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