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Industry group: Solar installations will quadruple by 2030

Industry group: Solar installations will quadruple by 2030
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Solar industry installations are set to quadruple by the end of the decade, according to a report released Tuesday by an industry group.

The solar energy sector, which installed nearly 100 gigawatts of solar power in 2020, is projected to install 324 gigawatts of capacity by 2030, according to the report from the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.

The report also found solar power accounted for the biggest share of new electricity-generating capacity in 2020, at 43 percent. The 10-year forecast indicates the solar industry will reach a total of 419 gigawatts in capacity by the end of the decade.

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“This growth will be spread across all market segments as distributed solar customers, utilities, states, and corporations push to decarbonize the grid,” the report reads.

“The forecast shows that by 2030, the equivalent of one in eight American homes will have solar, but we still have a long way to go if we want to reach our goals in the Solar+ Decade. This report makes it clear that smart policies work,” president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement. “The action we take now will determine the pace of our growth and whether we use solar to fuel our economy and meet this climate moment.”

Utility-scale solar power projects, the majority of the market, were minimally affected by coronavirus-related shutdowns last year, according to the report. The research also found nonresidential solar installations fell 4 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.

SEIA attributed this to the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in development delays, but “we expected a down year even before the pandemic as this segment has faced obstacles to sustained growth for many years.”

The report also found that the last-minute, two-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) led the organization to increase its projected development in the next five years to 17 percent. However, growth in the market will only be partially driven by the ITC extension, according to the report.

Other contributing factors will include increased interest in home improvement, power outages due to extreme weather such as the recent winter storms in Texas and increased decarbonization efforts.

“While non-residential solar growth is expected to moderate after an initial surge in 2021, long-term growth will accelerate as costs decline and financing options become more widely available,” the report states.