Solar energy in the United States is booming. Along with our partners at GTM Research and The Solar Foundation, SEIA tracks trends and trajectories in the solar industry that demonstrate the diverse and sustained growth across the country.

Below you will find charts and factoids that summarize the state of solar in the U.S.

Solar Growth and the ITC

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has provided industry stability and growth since its initial passage in 2006. In the last decade, solar has experienced a compound annual growth rate of more than 60%. To learn more about the ITC and its impact on the solar industry, visit our ITC Policy Page.

Solar as an Economic Engine

Nearly 209,000 Americans work in solar – more than double the number in 2010 – at more than 9,000 companies in every U.S. state. By 2021, that number is expected to increase to more than 360,000 workers.

Growth in Solar is led by Falling Prices

The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 60% over the last 10 years, leading the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide.

Q2 2016 Solar Market Update: Key Takeaways

  • Over 4 GW installed in Q3 2016
    • Largest quarter ever – by almost 1 GW
    • Through Q3, 2016 has already become the largest year ever
  • Nearly 36 GW of total solar capacity now installed
    • CAGR of 58% since 2010
    • Generates enough electricity to power 6.5 million homes
  • Solar prices dropped 19% from Q3 2015 to Q3 2016
    • Price drop is seen across all market segments – 5-7% in last quarter alone
    • Prices have dropped 62% over the last five years
    • Utility-Scale PPAs now signed for $0.03 – $0.05/kWh
  • Through Q3 2016, solar represents 39% of all newly installed electric capacity
    • With big Q4 2016 expected, could end year ahead of Wind, NG
  • In Q3 2016, a new MW of solar was added every 32 minutes
    • A new installation was added every 84 seconds

Solar PV Price Breakdown

The biggest cost-decline opportunity in the solar industry exists in soft costs, including labor, supply chain and overhead considerations. The U.S. Department of Energy is leading the charge on reducing soft costs, and SEIA and The Solar Foundation are working with cities and counties to streamline permitting processes and reduce local barriers to going solar.

The U.S Solar Industry is a 50 State Market

While California has traditionally dominated the U.S. solar market – with 34% market share in 2016 – other markets are continuing to expand, including Massachusetts, Utah, New York and Texas, where much of the future growth will take place.

Continued Growth Across All Market Segments

While residential solar has been the fastest growing segment in recent years, growth has slowed in 2016 as installers in mature markets continue to refine sales techniques. The commercial market has has success with large players like Walmart, Apple and Target, but community solar and off-site procurement will drive growth in the near term.  The utility-scale segment continues to be the backbone of the U.S. solar industry, with nearly 10 GW of installations expected in 2016.

Utility-Scale Solar Pipeline

Utility-scale solar has represented nearly two thirds of the market over the past few years, and this trend will likely continue through 2017 with a contracted pipeline of projects totaling almost 20 gigawatts.

U.S. Solar PV Growth Forecast

We expect the U.S. solar industry to install more than 14 GW of capacity by the end of 2016, which is nearly double the amount installed in a record-breaking 2015. Through the end of this decade, there will be robust growth across all three market segments, eventually reaching a 20 GW annual solar market and 100 GW in cumulative installed capacity.


Data from SEIA’s annual Solar Means Business report show that major U.S. corporations, including Target, Walmart and Apple are going solar at an incredible rate. The top 25 corporate solar users in America have installed nearly 1,100 MW of capacity at 2,000 different facilities across the country as of October 2016.

Other key takeaways:

  • The amount of solar installed at U.S. corporations and businesses is enough to offset 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year
  • Commercial prices have fallen by 58% since 2012 and by 16% in the last year

Click on the image above to view the map full screen. Zoom in to view the projects via satellite imagery.

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