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U.S. solar system installations rose by 47% in the first quarter of the year despite import problems because of the tariffs imposed on Asian exporters.
That’s according to a report by Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association that found new solar additions in the three-month period hit 6.1 GW of capacity.
Utility-scale installations jumped by 66% from the first quarter of 2022 to 3.8 GW, while residential solar additions rose by 30% to 1.6 GW. However, the rate of new additions is slowing down under the weight of economic uncertainty, the report noted.
The authors noted that some of the strong increase was the result of delayed projects finally moving forward as pressure on solar panel imports began to ease. These imports rose to 12 GW in the first quarter of 2023, compared with 29 GW for full 2022.
Solar power additions in the U.S. accounted for 54% of total new electricity generation capacity built in the first quarter, with Florida leading with the most newly installed solar capacity.
Wood Mac and the SEIA acknowledged that cost pressures remain high in solar power but they added they expected these to ease later in the year as imports of solar panels continue to increase.
For the full year, the authors of the report forecast total capacity additions of 29 GW in solar, up from 21 GW in 2022. Looking ahead, solar power capacity additions between 2024 and 2028 were projected to grow by low double digits, with the total for the five years seen at close to 236 GW.
A big reason for the upbeat forecast for the next five years is the Inflation Reduction Act which envisages strong financial support for the solar power industry. This support will help solar capacity to triple from current levels by 2029.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com