U.S. solar capacity to increase by 33% in 2020 amid pandemic

Solar power installation: Solar capacity to increase by 33% in the U.S. in 2020
Emeh Joy

A report published on Tuesday shows that New U.S solar installations will increase by a third this year as there has been increased demand by utilities for carbon-free power. The demand outweighs the decline in rooftop system orders for homes and businesses due to the pandemic.

The solar industry is set to install 18 megawatts this year, which is enough to power more than 3 million homes. This is according to a report by the U.S Solar Industries Association and energy research firm, Wood Mackenzie. The speculation is actually 9% less than what the group speculated before the coronavirus outbreak caused delays in construction, lower demand and less access to financing.

However, the report noted that utility-scale solar is on track for a record year as 14.4 GW of new capacity is expected to be installed this year.

There are, however, risks to the sector's medium and long-term growth such as increased capital costs due to weak markets, reduced demand from industrial and commercial customers who are going through financial issues as well as delays in utility procurement plans.

SEIA reduced its five-year solar installation outlook by about 3% to 113 GW saying it is because of "considerable uncertainty" caused by the pandemic.

Solar power accounted for 40% of new U.S. capacity additions in the first quarter ahead of natural gas and wind. The smaller market for residential and commercial systems has been affected negatively by the pandemic due to lockdown orders and restrictions which slowed construction and selling.

Home installations are expected to decline by 25% this year, according to the report and would increase to 26% next year. It would take years for the sector to reach installation levels that had been speculated before the outbreak.

The report further noted that installations in the non-residential segment, which includes rooftop systems for businesses would decline 38% this year.

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