Almost 40% of the new electricity generating capacity added in the United States comes from solar energy, new figures reveal. However, the growth of the industry is threatened by the COVID-19 crisis, industry leader warns.
Data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables revealed that U.S. solar market installed 13.3 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in 2019, a 23% rise compared to the year before. This brings the cumulative operating photovoltaic capacity in the country to stand at more than 76 GW.
Furthermore, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables forecasts annual growth of 47% for 2020, with almost 20 GW of installations. However, the industry is facing an unexpected headwind as the coronavirus pandemic can impact businesses worldwide, including the energy sector.
The SEIA said it was “closely monitoring changes to the industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the release of this publication, the full impacts of the coronavirus outbreak on the solar industry are still developing.”
However, as of this moment, the organization said that the “dynamic nature of the outbreak” meant it was “too early to incorporate any changes into our outlooks with enough certainty.”
The year 2019 has become one of the most productive years for the solar energy sector. Earlier this year, a report from the Solar Foundation’s “National Solar Jobs Census” revealed that there are 2.3% more people were employed by the solar energy industry in 2019.
With substantial job losses in 2017 and 2018, the numbers in 2019 are hopeful rays of sunshine for the industry. It also echoed the promising growth of the solar energy circuit that has ballooned more than 167% since the publication of the first census for 2010, the non-profit The Solar Foundation said in an earlier statement.
“In just ten years, despite facing many challenges, solar has grown from a niche product to a mainstream energy source that provides a quarter of a million high-quality jobs,” Andrea Luecke, The Solar Foundation’s president and executive director, said.