- The US added more solar power than any other type of electricity in the first quarter of 2018.
- Solar accounts for 55% of all US electricity added so far in 2018.
- The number is evidence of a broader global shift: Investment in renewable energy for electricity is overtaking fossil fuels.
The US added more solar power than any other type of electricity in the first quarter of 2018.
According to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a nonprofit group, the US solar market added 2.5 gigawatts of new capacity in the first three months of 2018, up 13% from the first quarter of 2017.
That accounts for 55% of all US electricity added in the first quarter of 2018, including fossil fuels and other forms of renewable energy.
“This data shows that solar has become a common-sense option for much of the US and is too strong to be set back for long,” SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement.
The SEIA report notes that the bulk of the new solar capacity added comes from utility-scale projects, which are large installations that feed power into the grid. Non-residential solar, a category used when companies like AT&T and Nestle switch their electricity source to solar power, was the second largest area of growth, according to the SEIA.
This growth comes despite the 30% tariffs the Trump administration levied on imported solar panels earlier this year. The tariffs went into effect at the beginning of February, a change that some in the solar industry previously told Business Insider would lead to a reduced demand for solar power.
After the tariffs went into effect, developers killed some $US2.5 billion of solar installation projects, according to Reuters. Some US senators recently introduced a bipartisan bill to repeal the tariffs, saying they “jeopardize tens of thousands of workers” who are employed installing and maintaining solar installations in the US.
In 2017, before the tariffs were implemented, it cost around $US50 to produce one megawatt-hour of electricity from solar power, according to an analysis from the investment bank Lazard. Coal, by comparison, cost about $US102 per megawatt-hour to produce, the report calculated.
Rising US solar investment mirrors a larger global shift. In 2017, solar energy attracted $US160.8 billion in investment, according to data from the United Nations Environment Program, outpacing nuclear and fossil fuels. China was by far the largest investor last year, sinking $US126 billion alone into the renewable energy sector, according to a UN report.
Solar in 2017 was also the fastest growing electricity source globally, with 98 gigawatts added in 2017.
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