US solar industry predicts installations will quadruple by 2030

Just 3 per cent of US electricity is generated from the sun.
Just 3 per cent of US electricity is generated from the sun.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Solar installations in the United States are expected to quadruple by 2030 thanks to the extension of a key industry subsidy late last year and booming demand for carbon-free power, an industry body said on Tuesday (March 16).

The sector will install 324 gigawatt (GW) of capacity over the next decade, more than three times the nearly 100GW installed by 2020, the US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said, citing a report issued jointly with Wood Mackenzie.

The 324GW of solar energy would produce enough electricity to power about 60 million homes, or around 40 per cent of homes in the country today.

The outlook reflects both robust demand from utilities and corporations seeking to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals and declining costs for the technology that has buttressed the market for home solar installations.

Just 3 per cent of US electricity is generated from the sun, but SEIA hopes that will rise to 20 per cent over the next decade.

Installations rose 43 per cent last year to 19.2GW, an annual record for the industry. Utility-scale projects, which account for most of the market, experienced only minor disruptions due to coronavirus pandemic-related shutdowns. Residential installations took a large hit in the second quarter due to the pandemic, but ended the year up 11 per cent at a record 3.1 GW.

Late last year, the US Congress extended a 26 per cent tax credit that helps reduce the cost of solar facilities as part of a package to provide coronavirus aid and fund the US government.

But SEIA said further tax incentives, the lifting of tariffs on overseas-made panels, and workforce training was necessary for the US to cut enough greenhouse gas output to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

"We need policy in all of those areas so that we can not just grow on the path that we're on, but accelerate that growth," SEIA president Abigail Ross Hopper said in an interview.