It was the biggest quarter ever for solar, which supplied one-third of over 7.3 gigawatts of new power plant capacity added to the grid. Distributed solar kept pace, with 832 megawatts (AC) added in the last three months of 2015!
Important note: in prior versions of this update I made an error, forgetting to covert SEIA’s reported data for residential and non-residential solar (in DC megawatts) to match the EIA data (in AC megawatts). This means I was over-reporting the capacity from distributed solar by about 15% (I’ll be using an 85% DC to AC conversion figure in the future).
Renewables Dominate New Annual Capacity
It’s been nearly 10 years since fossil fuel power plants represented more than 60% of new power plant capacity (2006), and it looks like three years running where distributed solar will represent at least 10% of new power capacity. Below is the annual data since 2003.
Despite some fluctuation, when added capacity is broken down by quarter the growth of distributed solar has been consistently 10% or more of new power plant capacity. This has been aided by steeply falling prices and victories against utilities in the war on solar and other distributed power.
The growth in distributed solar continues to expand the opportunity for electric customers to own a slice of their energy future, an economic windfall that could cumulatively shift as much as $48 billion from electric utilities to their customers in the next 10 years.
Photo credit: Andrew _ B via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)