The U.S. solar industry didn't just endure the pandemic, it thrived. Solar installations increased 43% year over year in 2020, resulting in a record high 19.2 gigawatts of new capacity, CNBC reports. One gigawatt can power about 190,000 homes and, for perspective, only 1 gigawatt was added for the entire year of 2015. The greatest increase of 2020 came during the fourth quarter, when installations added 8 gigawatts of capacity, marking a quarterly record. These solar panels are popping up more in California, Texas, and Florida than other states.
Following a slowdown in the second quarter as the pandemic ground operations to a halt, residential solar saw a record-setting sales pipeline in the second half of the year, boosted by customers interested in home improvements. The report’s authors believe this momentum in the back half of the year likely continued into 2021.
On the utility solar front, annual capacity additions jumped 65% from the prior year.
“The recent two-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) will drive greater solar adoption through 2025,” said Michelle Davis, senior analyst from Wood Mackenzie, referring to the tax credits extended in December as part of the coronavirus relief and government spending package.