Residential solar section beats COVID restoration projection in third quarter

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US solar companies installed 3.8 gigawatts (GW) of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the third quarter of 2020. This represents a 9% increase from installs in the second quarter as the industry has recovered from the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the US Solar Market Insight Q4 2020 report released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, solar accounts for 43% of all new capacity expansions through Q3 2020, more than any other power source. The report predicts a record 19 GW of new solar capacity systems in 2020, representing a year-on-year growth of 43% from 2019.

“This report shows the incredible resilience of our companies and workers in the face of the pandemic and the continued demand for clean, affordable power sources,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “It also speaks to our ability to support economic growth in our darkest moments. As solar continues to grow, the next government and convention will have the opportunity to help the solar industry achieve its Solar + Decade goals, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and weather the climate crisis. “

Residential growth

The solar market for residential real estate – which was hit hardest by the business impact of the pandemic – exceeded recovery expectations and rose 14% from the second quarter, but remained below the first quarter’s level.

“Logically, the states with the largest installation declines in the second quarter also had the largest rallies in the third quarter, such as New York and New Jersey, where restrictions were significant,” said Michelle Davis, senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “Adjustments to the business model such as virtual sales tactics and price campaigns continued to pay off in the summer and autumn.”

The utility market was the main driver of Q3 systems with 2.7 GW of new capacity, 70% of the solar capacity that went online in the third quarter.

The Sun Belt states are leading the way in new capacity expansion this year. Texas and Florida will both install more than 2 GW by the third quarter of 2020. For perspective, that’s almost the amount of solar each of these states installed in 2018 and 2019 combined.

The utility project’s pipeline rose to a record 69.2 GW and the US is expected to reach 100 GW of cumulative installed solar capacity by mid-2021.

Key characters

• In the third quarter of 2020, the US solar market installed 3.8 GWDC solar PV, up 9% from the second quarter as the industry began to recover from the worst of the pandemic.
• In the third quarter of 2020, a total of 9.5 GWDC of new purchase agreements for PV energy supply companies were announced, bringing the contractually agreed pipeline to a record value of 69 GWDC
• Solar accounted for 43% of all added new power generation capacity in the third quarter of this year, outperforming all other generation technologies.
• Wood Mackenzie predicts annual growth of 43% in 2020, with more than 19 GWdc installations expected.
• Forecasts for 2021-2025 assume that total solar systems will be over 107 GWDC. This represents an increase of 10 GWDC over the last quarter, mainly due to healthy growth in the supply-scale solar pipeline.

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