Solar market nearly doubles in 2016, industry boosts jobs 25%

The U.S. installed  14,626 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) last year, up 95 percent from 2015 levels, according to  GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). As a result, the U.S. is now home to more than 1.3 million solar PV installations with a cumulative capacity of over 40 gigawatts. That’s 40 million kilowatts. A typical residential rooftop installation is 5 kW to 10 kW while commercial installs range from 10 kW to 50 kW on average. For the first time ever, solar ranked as the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity — it accounted for 39 percent of new capacity additions across all fuels. On average, a new megawatt of solar PV capacity came on-line every 32 minutes in Q3 2016. Tennessee ranked 25th among states for solar installed in Q3. “It’s no surprise that more and more people, communities and businesses are going solar,” said Harvey Abouelata, ARiES Solar president. “Free, clean, renewable energy from the sun translates into immediate savings on your electric bill, predictable energy costs and offers a hedge against future price increases.” Solar grew in all areas, but the biggest increase was seen in the utility-scale sector, which can be partly attributed to projects initiated due to doubts for the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit, said report authors. The ITC offers businesses and consumers a 30 percent tax credit on renewable energy installs. Utilities are becoming more interested in solar, which is now competitive with natural gas alternatives, said Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s associate director of U.S. solar research. They are also often leaders in the booming  community solar movement, which added more...