United States reaches 1 million solar installations

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has launched a new awareness campaign on the occasion of the United States reaching an estimated 1 million solar PV installations. Million Solar Strong is a traditional and social media campaign under the message that “solar is here to stay”.

A report by SEIA and and George Washington University’s (GWU) Solar Institute estimates that there are currently 942,000 residential installations, 57,000 PV installations at businesses, non-profits and government agencies, and 1,500 utility-scale PV installations in the United States. This is a 1,000-fold increase in 15 years.

The organizations credit a number of factors for this growth, including a 70% decline in installation costs, led by declining PV module costs, as well as the predictability and stability of both the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and state policies such as net metering and renewable portfolio standards (RPS).

44 states currently have net metering policies. 29 have implemented RPS policies, which mandate that utilities procure an increasing amount of their generation from renewable energy sources. Many require that a certain portion of this is solar or distributed generation.

Supported by these policies and the increasing raw economic advantages of solar, the organizations expect growth to continue. While it took 43 years from the time the first residential PV system was installed in 1973 to reach 1 million installations, SEIA and GWU expect the United States to reach 2 million solar installations in 2018. They further expect 4 million in 2020, and for the United States to be installing a million PV systems annually by 2025.

The organizations say that a major challenge for the future is bringing solar to low-income communities, which face a number of barriers including a high rate of renters versus homeowners, multi-tenant buildings and a lack of access to financing.