Solar power passes milestone

Solar power passes milestone
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Solar power installations in the United States passed 20 gigawatts of capacity in the second quarter of this year, the industry said.

The March-through-June period saw 1,393 megawatts of solar power capacity installed, dominated as usual by utility installations, pushing the total market above 20 gigawatts for the first time, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said Wednesday in its quarterly market report.


Residential solar saw 473-megawatt growth in the quarter, marking a 70 percent increase, the most on record, the industry group said.

In order for growth to continue in the long term, the industry needs Congress to renew the solar investment tax credit, which provides incentives for installing solar equipment but is due to expire next year, SEIA said.

“The demand for solar energy is now higher than ever and this report spells out how crucial it is for America to maintain smart, effective, forward-looking public policies, like the ITC, beyond 2016,” Rhone Resch, SEIA’s president, said in a statement.

“Since the ITC was passed in 2006, U.S. solar growth has exploded and more than 150,000 American solar jobs have been created. By any measurement, that’s a success for both our economy and environment,” she said.

Despite record growth in recent years, solar power is still an extremely small part of the United States’s energy mix.

In 2014, it generated only 0.4 percent of the United States’s electricity, or about a hundredth of coal’s market share.