Solar Market Predicted to Grow Up to 50% by 2016

Here’s some fantastic news for anyone invested in the solar industry: the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) put out a forecast that predicts the solar market will grow 25 to 50 percent in all U.S. sectors by 2016.

Amazing! Check out their video:

The Massive Growth of Solar

SEIA analyzed data from the solar industry starting in 2004 to last year. Back in 2004, only 500 MW of solar had been installed. At the time, solar was still struggling to gain a foothold among consumers and investors. With laws that made it difficult to install solar, it was hard for the U.S. to build up solar capacity.

But between then and now, what the SEIA discovered was massive growth rates in employment and investment, along with growth in solar deployment.  Investment rose from $2.6 billion to $71.1 billion — yes, you read that right. And overall solar capacity increased to 20 GW compared to 500 MW. By the end of 2016, cumulative installed solar capacity is expected to reach 40 GW.

Additionally, the employment sector has seen huge gains in solar. As one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. (adding 31,000 new jobs last year), the overall number of people employed by solar have grown from 20,000 back in 2004 to 174,000 in 2014. That’s an 86 percent growth, and SEIA adds that solar is “adding workers at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy.”

The Future of the Solar Industry

The U.S. Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) pointed out in its most recent Utility Solar Market Snapshot that solar energy is quickly becoming  is fast becoming a “least-cost option” for utilities. Given that California, New Jersey, Arizona, and Hawaii are leading the way in terms of solar activity, it seems like it’s only time before other states step up to the plate. But part of how they got there was through smart policies and legislation that encouraged people to buy solar in the first place, like tax credits and renewable portfolio standards.

So let’s look to the future. The federal tax credit for solar is about to run out at the end of the year unless it’s renewed. Utility companies are fighting back against rooftop solar. If the tax credit ends, is all hope lost? Or are businesses and homeowners on to solar now, and it’s an energy boom that won’t stop?

On the other hand,  SEIA still estimated that 40 GW of solar will be installed across America by the end of 2016. The first quarter of data from SEIA shows that the U.S. installed 1,306 MWdc of solar photovoltaic, making it the sixth consecutive quarter in which the U.S. added more than 1 GWdc of solar installations. And collectively, over 51 percent of all new electric generating capacity came from solar in the first quarter.

Will SEIA’s predictions be accurate? Only time will tell.

What do you think of SEIA’s predictions for the solar industry? Let us know in the comments!


Image Credit: SeeNews Renewables under a Creative Commons license


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