Solar energy news at the end of 2017 and the start of 2018 has been mixed. In an earlier post we looked at one of the most talked about issues for 2018, the newest solar tariff increases and the potential impact on costs and activity.
Now that the first quarter of 2018 is squarely behind us, we decided to take a closer look to see how solar power installations in Pennsylvania are doing. We found a few studies with enough data to compare the progress in the first quarter of 2018 (1Q18). And it looks very good for our state.
Solar Energy Across the U.S.
The strength of the solar industry nationwide is important as it helps to keep the entire industry cost effective. Local solar energy costs benefit when manufacturers can maintain a steady supply or grow their overall output. While seeing the Pennsylvania market boom is exciting, we also cheer when things look good everywhere.
So here are some important facts and numbers about the solar energy industry in the United States:
+ 11% — Residential solar installations for 1Q18 grew by 11% compared to the previous year. The country reached nearly 73,000 new installations. This was the second highest quarter since 2016. Because the time from order to solar generation for residential rooftop solar is very quick, this is a sign that people were deciding, investing, and enjoying new solar mostly within the quarter.
– 5% — Utility scale solar installations slowed by a small amount – compared to the previous year, the new capacity added was not quite 5% less. Lead times for large ground mounted projects are measured in months, usually around 6 months or as high as a year. Many analysts attribute this small decrease to the uncertainty around policy discussions and the tariffs in the fall of 2017. There is a positive sign, however. While many project developers experienced delays from utility partners, the projects that moved forward were significantly larger than the same period the year before. So those who made the choice were able to justify much larger solar farms due to the return on their investment.
+ 30.6% — The nominal increase of electricity generated by active solar systems of all sizes compared to the previous year. As of this writing, the months of January and February had been reported.
Click on the chart comparing 1Q2018 solar power growth to see it larger.
Solar Energy in Pennsylvania
The robustness of solar energy in Pennsylvania is evident in two measures. Both the new installations within the 1Q18 and the increase in estimated electricity generated during the period indicate the state’s industry is not only strong but growing.
+ 24% — The same analysis showing nationwide 1Q18 residential solar energy growth at 11%, data also places Pennsylvania at a 24% growth. Not only is that well over twice the national average, but it compares very favorably to other northeastern states like Massachusetts and New York with strong renewable energy policies.
+ 50% — The increase in utility scale solar production in Pennsylvania was very large, mostly because the capacity is small. The large utility scale output is less than half of the totals for commercial and residential systems.
+ 37.5% — The nominal increase in the production of residential solar energy systems compared to the previous year. (With January and February being reported.)
Overall solar energy in Pennsylvania is meeting or exceeding the average trends across the nation. The 1Q18 results to date show there is a resilience to any assumed negative cost impacts. They indicate that rooftop solar energy systems are a preferred path to solarizing homes and businesses in the state. Both the installation activity and the energy contribution to the state are exceeding the national averages.
We encourage you to Contact Us using the form to the right to find out how you can join this growing solar revolution in Pennsylvania. Let us show you your options to lowering your family’s energy costs today.