Americans Poised to Set New Rooftop Solar Record Despite Virus

Source: By Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg • Posted: Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A worker installs solar panels on the roof of a home in California.
A worker installs solar panels on the roof of a home in California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

BloombergNEF now forecasts 3 gigawatts of residential-solar installations in 2020, topping the previous high of 2.8 gigawatts set last year, according to a report released Monday. BNEF expects another 3.6 gigawatts to be installed in 2021. And it’s not just residential solar seeing growth — onshore wind and utility-scale solar are also having a robust year.

Demand for residential solar has rebounded after installers early in the pandemic had to limit, if not ditch, a key marketing tactic — door-to-door sales. A shift to digital sales amid lockdowns has proved fruitful, deepening the pool of potential customers, BNEF said. Now, many homeowners forced to work at home are contemplating upgrades to their residences, some spurred by weather-related power outages.

READ: After Door-to-Door Sales Froze, Solar Is Poised to Rebound

“The push for renewables is really strong,” said Tara Narayanan, an analyst at BloombergNEF, in an interview. “It’s allowed the sector to shake off the worst of the plague and some natural disasters.”

America’s utility-scale solar and onshore-wind industries, meanwhile, were poised to have strong years — and are still on pace to do so. BNEF projects 10 gigawatts of utility-scale solar to be installed in 2020, the best year for the sector since 2016. The research group bumped its onshore-wind forecast to 13.4 gigawatts from 11.1 gigawatts, which would be the highest since 13.9 gigawatts were added in 2012.