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Solar Power Is Starting to Shine

Solar Power Is Starting to Shine

  • Aug 15, 2019

The U.S. solar-energy market just had its strongest first quarter yet, and rooftop power has emerged as the most promising growth sector.

Though it represents a small portion of the overall market, residential solar power has a lot of potential to grow, experts say. Strong customer demand, a handful of recent policy developments, and opportunities in battery storage are working in its favor.

In the first three months of 2019, the U.S. installed a record 2.7 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic cells, marking the most solar installations in the first quarter of a year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie. Rooftop residential solar made up 22% of the installations in the last quarter, and that percentage is on the rise

Key drivers of growth include South Carolina's removal of its net-metering cap, which limited the amount of energy that solar system owners could exchange on the grid, and Maryland’s recent bill that requires the state to generate 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

The market for rooftop solar will continue to rely on regions where installations have been strong, such as California and the Northeast, but large solar players are turning their attention to emerging markets. Almost a third of new residential capacity during the first quarter came from markets outside the top-10 in cumulative capacity, the highest share ever, according to the report.

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