(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Most people are aware that solar power has been booming. Prices are dropping rapidly and panels are going up in many places, either on residential rooftops or as part of large utility scale arrays. But few people have an appreciation for just how much solar has grown in a very short time. The new US Solar Market Insight Q4 2016 report from GreenTechMedia (GTM) Research really puts this into perspective.
The number are particularly impressive right now because the industry just had a phenomenal quarter.
In the third quarter of 2016, with the installation of 4,143 MW of new capacity, total installed solar PV in the US increased by 99%. That’s right, you don’t need new glasses. Solar essentially doubled in the last quarter. It’s also a 191% increase over last year’s third quarter.
If you do the math, that’s a new MW coming online every 32 minutes. Someone was pretty busy. California alone added over 1 GW in a single quarter, the first state to ever do so. GTM forecasts a yearly total of 14.1 GW. That’s an 88% increase over the previous year.
Let’s take a look at some of the trends behind these numbers. For starters, utilities installed about 75% of this, a little over 3 GW. That shows a big surge of utilities embracing solar, Apparently, many have adopted an “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em,” attitude. As a result, the 60% solar share of all new generating capacity broke the quarterly record for market share.