Solar installations reach record high in the third quarter

Source: By Ivan Penn, Los Angeles Times • Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2016

Solar energy continued its bullish growth across the United States in the three months ended Sept. 30 with a record number of installations for a single quarter.

California, by far the nation’s leader in use of solar, led the expansion and became the first state to install 1 gigawatt of solar power in a single quarter, according to the Solar Energy Industries Assn.

In all, solar installations totaled more than 4.1 gigawatts of electricity generation and claimed the largest share of growth in the electricity sector with 39% of the market. Nearly three-quarters of the solar power growth came from utility scale solar farms.

The solar association expects another record-setting quarter for installations at the end of the fourth quarter. The industry anticipates reaching 14.1 gigawatts of new electricity capacity for the year from solar — an 88% increase over 2015.

The record-breaking quarter brings the total nationwide solar capacity to 35.8 gigawatts, enough to power 6.5 million U.S. homes and reduce carbon emissions by 41.7 million metric tons annually.

As energy firms increasingly offer energy storage packages for both utility-sized projects and residential solar, the number of solar installations is expected to continue growing substantially.

San Francisco-based Sunrun, for example, announced Wednesday that it is offering Californians a new combination of solar panels and battery storage, as it has been in Hawaii, joining a growing number of firms selling both products.