For the first time, American consumers chose solar energy over natural gas for capacity additions during a record-breaking 2015, according to a report released Monday by market analysts.
The figures, put out by Green Tech Media, were released ahead of the March 9 “U.S. Solar Market Insight Report.”
Solar supplemented natural gas on the back of a rising residential market, where it saw a 66 percent increase from 2014 to 2015. That market now claims nearly 30 percent of the country’s total solar market. It helps that solar panels from Chinese manufacturers have been getting cheaper, that the federal government offers a 30 percent tax credit for rooftop panels, and, perhaps even more importantly, that creative leasing programs have been hugely successful. By comparison, the non-residential market has been mostly flat.
Here’s an annual solar installations chart showing just how much the tech has boomed since 2010:
The installations have been especially popular in California, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts, and New York, though 13 states installed more than 100 megawatts each over the last year. The report cites Utah and Georgia for making major investments in solar, with each state entering the nation’s top 10 states for solar generation.
Last summer, Georgia’s legislature passed the Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015, allowing for third-party financing of solar panels in the state, while in Utah Legend Solar announced a 400 percent increase in business from 2014 to 2015.