ILSR’s Distributed Solar Capacity Quarterly Update (2015 Q4)

Date: 14 Mar 2016 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

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).

See previous updates: 2015 Q3, 2015 Q2, 2015 Q1, 2014 Q4, 2014 Q3, 2014 Q2

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.

This article originally posted at For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter or get the Democratic Energy weekly update.

Photo credit: Andrew _ B via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)

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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.