US Solar Industry Grows by 43% With 19.2 GW Installed in 2020 Despite COVID-19

U.S. is expected to add 234 GW of solar installations by 2030 and reach 419 GW over the next decade


According to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2020 Year-in-Review report, released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, the U.S. solar industry grew 43% and installed a record 19.2 GW of capacity in 2020.

The report states that solar led all technologies in new electric-generating capacity added, for the second year in a row, accounting for 43%. According to Wood Mackenzie’s 10-year forecast, the U.S. solar industry will install a cumulative 324 GW of new capacity to reach a total of 419 GW over the next decade.

New capacity additions in 2020 represent a 43% increase from 2019, which broke the U.S. solar market’s previous record of 15.1 GW set in 2016.

California, Texas, and Florida were the top three states for annual solar capacity additions for the second straight year. Virginia joins them as a fourth state installing over 1 GW of solar PV. In 2020, 27 states installed over 100 MWdc of new solar capacity, a new record.

According to SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper, “After a slowdown in Q2 due to the pandemic, the solar industry innovated and came roaring back to continue our trajectory as America’s leading source of new energy. The forecast shows that by 2030, the equivalent of one in eight American homes will have solar.”

Some of the notable features of this massive spike in solar installations include-

  • Residential deployment up 11% from 2019, reaching a record 3.1 GW.
  • Non-residential installations declined 4% from 2019, with 2 GW installed.
  • 3 GW of utility-scale projects installed in Q4 2020, bringing the annual total under 14 GW.
  • 5GW of new utility solar power purchase agreements were announced in Q4 2020. The total volume of project announcements in 2020 was 30.6 GW. The full utility-scale contracted pipeline was at 69 GW.

The 8 GW of new installations in Q4 2020 marks the largest quarter in U.S. solar history. The U.S. solar market had added only 7.5 GW of new capacity in 2015. Meanwhile, by 2030, Wood Mackenzie forecasts that the total operating solar fleet will more than quadruple.

According to Michelle Davis, senior analyst from Wood Mackenzie, “The recent two-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) will drive greater solar adoption through 2025. Compelling economics for distributed and utility-scale solar along with decarbonization commitments from numerous stakeholders will result in a landmark installation rate of over 50 GW by the end of the decade.”

The United States had installed 3.8 GW of new solar capacity in the third quarter (Q3) of 2020, a 9% increase from the second quarter (Q2), according to the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie’s  U.S. Solar Market Insight Q4 2020 report.

Meanwhile, Annual energy consumption from renewable sources in the United States in 2019 exceeded coal consumption for the first time since 1885, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) ‘Monthly Energy Review.’

Rahul is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Before entering the world of renewables, Rahul was head of the Gujarat bureau for The Quint. He has also worked for DNA Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad Mirror. Hailing from a banking and finance background, Rahul has also worked for JP Morgan Chase and State Bank of India. More articles from Rahul Nair.