In the third quarter of 2023, the United States saw a robust increase in solar capacity, with installations reaching 6.5 GW DC, marking a 35% year-over-year surge. A report jointly published by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie revealed that the nation is on track to achieve a record-breaking annual addition of 33 GW by the end of the year.
Michelle Davis, Head of Solar Research at Wood Mackenzie and lead author of the report, expressed optimism about the U.S. solar industry's growth trajectory, anticipating a 55% expansion in 2023 and a further 10% growth in 2024. However, Davis highlighted potential challenges from 2026 onward, citing interconnection constraints and emphasized the need for reforms in interconnection, regulatory modernization, and increased storage attachment rates.
The utility-scale segment played a significant role, installing 4 GW, reflecting a remarkable 58% increase compared to the third quarter of 2022. The report noted that while module supply chains stabilized, procurement challenges shifted to transformers and high-voltage circuit breakers. Factors such as elevated financing costs, transformer shortages, and interconnection bottlenecks contributed to a lower number of new contracts signed in this segment during the third quarter.
Residential solar installations continued to break records, with 1.8 GW added across more than 210,000 projects in the quarter. However, the report anticipates a temporary decline in the residential segment in the coming year due to alterations in net energy metering policy in California and higher interest rates nationwide.
In contrast, commercial solar installations experienced a 3% year-over-year decline, reaching 363 MW. Meanwhile, the community solar segment exhibited growth, rising by 14% to 274 MW. The comprehensive report sheds light on the dynamics of the U.S. solar market, highlighting achievements and challenges across different segments.