U.S. Solar Power on Track for Record 2015 as Utilities Lead Way

  • Solar-panel installation climbs 8.7% in second quarter
  • Market driven by tax credit set to be reduced at end of 2016

Developers installed 1.4 gigawatts of solar power in the U.S. in the second quarter, up 8.7 percent from a year earlier, putting the country on track for a record 7.7 gigawatts this year.

Residential systems swelled 70 percent while the utility market remained “the bedrock driver” of the U.S. solar market, accounting for more than half the installations, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association said in a joint statement Wednesday.

The solar industry is rushing to complete projects before the end of next year, when a federal tax credit is set to expire for residential and utility-scale projects. Declining costs for solar power have also made them viable competitors to fossil fuels in many states, with 40 percent of the 16.7 gigawatts of utility projects in development beating coal and natural gas on price.

Total U.S. solar capacity in operation now exceeds 20 gigawatts, enough to supply 4.6 million homes and reduce carbon emissions by 25 million metric tons a year, according to the report.

— With assistance by Chris Martin

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