U.S. Rooftop Solar Capacity Jumps Record 76% in First Quarter

Homeowners in the U.S. installed rooftop systems at a record pace in the first quarter as more than half of the electricity capacity added in the country was solar.

Residential installations jumped 76 percent from a year earlier to 437 megawatts, according to a report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. That helped increase total U.S. solar capacity by 1.3 gigawatts, the sixth straight quarter more than 1 gigawatt was added.

The first quarter “provided a clear glimpse into the future role that the residential sector will play as a primary driver of not only solar-market growth, but the overall electricity-generation mix,” Shayle Kann, senior vice president at Boston-based GTM Research, said in a statement Tuesday.

Full-year installations are expected to reach 7.9 gigawatts, a 27 percent increase from last year.

By 2016, solar will power about 8 million homes and offset 45 million metric tons of emissions, the equivalent of eliminating 10 million cars, according to the report.

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