Solar industry predicts ‘staggering’ growth this year

Solar industry predicts ‘staggering’ growth this year
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The United States’s solar power industry will grow in 2016 at a rate 119 percent higher than last year, an industry-backed report predicted Wednesday.

The forecast came in an annual report published by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which predicted that 16 gigawatts of capacity of new solar panels will be installed in 2016.

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It would far exceed last year’s 7.3 gigawatts and set a new record, the SEIA said.

“This is a new energy paradigm and the solar industry officially has a seat at the table with the largest energy producers,” SEIA president Rhone Resch said in a statement.

“Because of the strong demand for solar energy nationwide, and smart public policies like the [investment tax credit] and [net energy metering], hundreds of thousands of well-paying solar jobs will be added in the next few years benefiting both America’s economy and the environment,” he said.

The report predicted that 74 percent of the new installations will be in utility-scale solar farm projects, with the remainder in small projects such as rooftop solar. It also forecast that the millionth solar panel in the United States will be installed this year.

The tax credit, which was extended last year for five years, gives a tax break for part of the cost of installing solar panels. Net meter policies in states mandate that utilities pay people with rooftop solar for the energy that goes into the electrical grid from their panels.

The SEIA used Wednesday’s report to make the case for keeping net metering policies in place. Some states have changed them or are considering doing so.