U.S. consumers are increasingly turning to alternative energy, namely solar power, to lower costs. In many parts of the United States, power companies are currently seeking rate increases. As a result, homeowners are more receptive now than ever before to installing solar power: In the second quarter of this year, home solar installations grew 8% over the same quarter in 2016, according to recent research from Solar Energy Industries Association. Overall, solar comprised 30% of all new electric generating capacity installed in the United States in the first quarter of this year.
The report notes the industry installed 2,387 megawatts of solar photovoltaics in Q2 2017 -- resulting in a total of 47.1 gigawatts of installed capacity, enough to power 9.1 million American homes. Solar manufacturers are poised to install more than 12 gigawatts of solar capacity before the end of this year. A U.S. solar market segments - commercial, residential and utility-scale - saw quarter-over-quarter growth in Q2.
The second quarter figure is up almost 17% from the first. All that growth has led to an increase in the sector’s employment. SEIA reported that in 2016, solar companies added jobs 17 times faster than other sectors and increased GDP by billions of dollars.
The largest market for residential installations is California, due to its high number of sunny and dry weather days. Analysts predict that total installed solar PV capacity in the United States will almost triple during the next five years. By 2022, more than 17 GW of solar PV capacity will be installed every year, according to SEIA.