Community solar is about to go mainstream.

According to GTM Research’s latest solar report, 410 megawatts of community solar will be installed in the U.S. in 2017. The report, U.S. Community Solar Outlook 2017, describes community solar as an increasingly attractive offering for utilities as they move beyond pilot programs. 

FIGURE: Annual U.S. Community Solar Installations, 2010-2017E

Source: U.S. Community Solar Outlook 2017

This past year, the U.S. community solar market eclipsed 200 megawatts, despite some “missed growth opportunities” caused by regulatory and legislative delays.

Much of that growth happened in the second half of the year, with more than half of cumulative community solar installations brought on-line since last July. In 2016, most of the policy delays occurred in states with third-party-led projects marketed by developers. However, a majority of community solar capacity additions came from utilities with voluntary community solar programs. There are now 150 such programs in place or in development. 

“Looking ahead, the community solar market will be defined by utilities scaling up pilot programs beyond a single sub-1-megawatt project, and the regulatory driven boom-and-bust cycles of third-party-led state markets,” said Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s director of U.S. solar research and lead author of the report.  

While GTM Research forecasts continued national growth for the segment, the ebbs and flows of utility-led procurement and a volatile regulatory landscape for third-party programs means the primary state and utility markets for community solar will vary dramatically each year.

In this new report, GTM Research provides in-depth analysis of the key policy and market developments across major and emerging state and utility programs for community solar. With nearly 3 gigawatts of community solar in development, community solar is on track to become a 500-megawatt annual market by 2019.


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