• 40 mins Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 5 hours Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 11 hours Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 12 hours Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 13 hours Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 1 day Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 1 day Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 1 day China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 1 day UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 1 day Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 1 day VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 1 day Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 2 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 2 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 2 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 2 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 2 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 2 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 3 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 3 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 5 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
  • 5 days Texas Shutters More Coal-Fired Plants
  • 5 days Oil Trading Firm Expects Unprecedented U.S. Crude Exports
  • 5 days UK’s FCA Met With Aramco Prior To Proposing Listing Rule Change
  • 6 days Chevron Quits Australian Deepwater Oil Exploration
  • 6 days Europe Braces For End Of Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Renewable Energy Startup Powering Native American Protest Camp
  • 6 days Husky Energy Set To Restart Pipeline
  • 6 days Russia, Morocco Sign String Of Energy And Military Deals
  • 6 days Norway Looks To Cut Some Of Its Generous Tax Breaks For EVs
  • 6 days China Set To Continue Crude Oil Buying Spree, IEA Says
  • 6 days India Needs Help To Boost Oil Production
  • 6 days Shell Buys One Of Europe’s Largest EV Charging Networks
  • 6 days Oil Throwback: BP Is Bringing Back The Amoco Brand
  • 7 days Libyan Oil Output Covers 25% Of 2017 Budget Needs
  • 7 days District Judge Rules Dakota Access Can Continue Operating
  • 7 days Surprise Oil Inventory Build Shocks Markets
  • 7 days France’s Biggest Listed Bank To Stop Funding Shale, Oil Sands Projects
  • 7 days Syria’s Kurds Aim To Control Oil-Rich Areas
  • 7 days Chinese Teapots Create $5B JV To Compete With State Firms
Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is a freelance writer on oil and gas, renewable energy, climate change, energy policy and geopolitics. He is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

More Info

Solar Installations Surge 95% In 2016

Solar panel

The solar industry posted its best year on record in 2016, obliterating previous records by installing a smashing 14.6 gigawatts of new solar in the U.S. That is a 95 percent increase from the 7.4 GW installed in 2015, which happened to be the previous record.

It was the best year in the history of the U.S. solar business, according to new data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Even more impressive is the fact that with a cumulative installed capacity at just over 40 GW, roughly one third of all solar capacity ever installed was installed in 2016.

Of course, solar has been growing from a small base, and it still represents around 1 percent of total electricity generation. But what matters going forward is growth, and the 2016 figures point to a solid trend that suggests solar will dominate the future. In 2016, the 14.6 GW of solar installed accounted for 39 percent of the total electric generating capacity installed for the year, more than any other source of electricity. In other words, solar beat out wind, natural gas and coal in 2016, accounting for the most installed capacity for the year.

“What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Solar's economically-winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments nationwide, leading to more than 260,000 Americans now employed in solar.” Related: Passing On The Permian: Has The Bubble Grown Too Big?

There is one big caveat in the eye-popping numbers. About three-quarters of the 14.6 GW installed came from utility-scale solar projects, some of which were planned on the expectation that a key federal tax credit was set to expire at the end of 2016. As it turned out, the U.S. Congress extended the 30 percent investment tax credit through 2019, but many of the utility-scale projects were already in the works before the extension. That led to an inflation of sorts in the volume of new solar projects that came online in 2016 as companies rushed to take advantage of what they thought was an expiring tax credit.

As a result, there will likely be a bit of a drop off in installations this year. However, a pause or slowdown in the pace of growth will not derail the broader trend towards clean energy that is very much underway. Solar is increasingly becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels, depending on location. Moreover, employment is rising quickly, with jobs in the industry expanding by 25 percent last year.

In fact, one out of every 50 new jobs created in the U.S. in 2016 was in the solar industry. “These are well-paying, family sustaining jobs with low barriers to entry,” Andrea Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation, told Bloomberg in early February. The industry now employs over 260,000 people, or more than twice as many people as the coal industry, even though the latter still retains a great deal of political influence. Related: Artificial Intelligence To Reveal The Biggest Secret In Oil

As the solar industry grows, its political power will grow too. Despite the Trump administration’s vocal support for oil and gas and its efforts at stripping away environmental regulations, clean energy holds sway in many conservative states. Just a few days ago a group of Republican and Democratic governors sent a letter to the President, urging him to support solar and wind. “The boons of renewable energy can be virtually endless with your Administration’s and Congress’ support,” the governors wrote. Arch-conservative Kansas Governor Sam Brownback was one of the key signatories. Tax credits for wind and solar enjoy support across the political spectrum, particularly from windy states like Kansas and Iowa.

But at its core, the future trajectory of solar will come down to price. And on that front, despite what could be a slower year in 2017, solar is on the right track – costs have declined by 60 percent over the past decade and further reductions are expected. That will allow solar to outcompete natural gas-fired power plants in an ever-greater number of places. “We don’t expect to see many years with nearly 100 percent growth that we had in 2016,’’ Justin Baca of SEIA told Bloomberg. “But we see a future where lower-level stable growth is achievable.’’

Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that cumulative installed solar capacity will rise from 40 GW today to 105 GW by 2021 – equivalent to a third of the current installed capacity for coal.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Oilracle on February 16 2017 said:
    --" costs have declined by 60 percent over the past decade and further reductions are expected."--

    How about the past 2 decades, or even five? The percentage would be even higher and much more impressive!
  • GregS on February 20 2017 said:
    Bleh... I guess it depends on exactly who you count as being employed by the solar industry, and who you count as being employed by oil industry. Do clerks working the cash register at a gas station count as being employed by the petroleum industry? What about all the service companies that support the oil and gas companies?
    It's a difficult question to answer.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News