Solar Energy in the USA

High Growth Potential for Solar Energy

Solar energy is currently gaining a lot of importance in the US energy market, with a total installed capacity of 29.3 GW. Solar is the fastest growing source of renewable energy in 2016, with an expected 94% increase in installed capacity compared to 2015. PV continues to be the largest component of solar market growth. As of June 2016, the US is on track to install over 14.5 GW of new PV capacity in 2016. States in the West and Southwest, and to some extent on the East Coast, provide German companies with attractive markets for investment and sales. The Midwest is gaining importance for the solar industry, as well.

Solar power’s enormous potential in the US. is due to opportune conditions such as high levels of solar radiation and a pressing need for investment in energy infrastructure.

The federal and state governments have created attractive financial incentives to continue the trend of growth, most significantly with the extension of the Investment Tax Credit on December 18, 2015. Net Metering programs and sinking costs for PV equipment are making solar power increasingly cost effective. Industry experts anticipate a ‘solar revolution’ in the next four years, with strong growth in the number of residential installations, commercial arrays, and utility scale solar projects.

Photovoltaic Solar Resources in the US

Quelle: NREL

Important Market Data, Trends, and Developments

  • The cumulative capacity of PV amounts to 27.5 GW (as of Q1 2016).
  • In 2016, the industry is on track to install 14.5 GW of PV. This represents a 94% increase over 2015 levels.
  • The predominant financing mechanism for residential and commercial installations is third-party financing in the form of leasing agreements. Over 70% of private and commercial installations were financed by third party agreements. 
  • 209,000 Americans are currently employed by the solar industry, more than twice as many as in 2010.
* Estimate; Source: compare SEIA/GTM Research, 2016

Market Opportunities for German Companies

  • The Solar Energy Industries Association expects annual solar capacity to grow by up to 20 GW between 2016 and 2020. Germany is known as a land of solar pioneers in the US, and German solar companies have a strong reputation for intelligent designs and high quality products. Reference projects in the US are often a requirement for successful market entry. Collaboration with local research institutions can be very helpful in this regard. 
  • The market offers opportunities for manufacturers of various installation components. This includes mounting systems that are compatible with American roofs, inverters, and tracking systems. Demand is also rising for battery storage systems, especially for off-grid applications.
  • Providers of integrated solutions, such as building-integrated modules or solutions for grid integration, have many market opportunities. The market is also attractive for companies offering system certification and long-term performance measurements.

Organizations & Links

  • The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) headquartered in Washington, DC, is the leading national association for solar energy in the US. SEIA is the organizer of the annual Solar Power International conference and regularly publishes important industry figures.
  • The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA)  brings electric utilities and solar companies under one roof. SEPA functions as the co-organizer of the annual Solar Power International conference.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) manages numerous research programs for renewable energies. It also maintains the so-called DSIRE database containing all support programs for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • The DOE also oversees the Energy Information Administration which collects statistics on US energy production.


Corinna Jess

Director, Consulting Services & Trade Missions


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