US solar installations are expected to hit 15GW in 2016, a 60% year-on-year increase driven by the extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of last year, analyst firm IHS has predicted.
The record deployment will be primarily due to strong demand for utility-scale PV, IHS said in its latest ‘Solar Intelligence – North America’ report.
The west and south-west, traditionally the country’s solar engine rooms, will account for 65% of demand this year. California, Nevada and Texas are all expected to install over a gigawatt this year, IHS said.
“The extension of the tax credit relieves pressure on the industry to complete projects ahead of the 2016 deadline and breathes new life into the U.S. solar industry” said Camron Barati, North America solar analyst for IHS Technology. “Many feared the solar industry in the United States, which has experienced tremendous growth over the last several years, might collapse in 2017 without an extension of the ITC.”
According to IHS, the US has a 50GW pipeline of commercial and utility PV projects planned for 2016 to 2019. Over half of the capacity planned over that period will be utility projects, which will be the main beneficiary of the ITC extension, according to IHS.
Nevertheless, other segments of the market are expected to fare well, the analysts added: “Residential and commercial PV will experience sustained growth through the forecast period,” Barati said, “but mounting pressure from utilities to revise retail net metering rates and the falling cost of large-scale generation will limit growth opportunities in the U.S outside of well-established state markets.”
Next year IHS is predicting a 30% decline in the US market as demand for utility-scale projects tapers off. The only exception to this will be the Northeast, where commercial and residential projects are more dominant than utility.
After 2017, IHS predicts the US market will return to growth in every year for the remainder of the forecast period.