Newly Installed Solar PV Capacity Hits Record High Of 6,201 MW In 2014 In US


SolarCity Residence

SolarCity Residence

SolarCity at Union Bridge, MD

SolarCity at Union Bridge, MD

Though not always directly linked to plug-in electric cars, it’s still a topic of interest among most electric car enthusiasts, as an uncommonly high percentage of owners take advantage of this tech.

We’re hinting at solar photovoltaic.  More specifically, newly installed solar photovoltaic capacity in the U.S. in 2014 alone.  The numbers are staggering.

Here goes:

“Newly installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the US in 2014 reached a record 6,201 MW, growing 30% over 2013’s total, according to the new US Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review report released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).”

“Solar accounted for 32% of US new generating capacity in 2014, beating out both wind energy and coal for the second year in a row. Only natural gas constituted a greater share of new generating capacity.”

“The residential segment’s 1.2 GW in 2014 marks its first time surpassing 1 GW. Residential continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the US, with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50% annual growth.”

More details here and at the source link below.

Source: Green Car Congress

Categories: General

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45 Comments on "Newly Installed Solar PV Capacity Hits Record High Of 6,201 MW In 2014 In US"

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That was a nice story but as usual, they didn’t really get it right. Made in China is part of the reason why solar PV panels have dropped but not at all the only one. Thin films came along and provided a very cheap alternative to PV. Then the price of silicon dropped like a rock. And PV panel makers also realized that they could use much lower quality silicon such that they could use silicon which would not be good enough for integrated circuits but worked great for solar PV. Those things dropped the price of PV much more than Chinese manufacturing.

You can buy relatively cheap solar PV panels still made in USA, Canada, Europe, etc . . . but they generally will cost a little more than Chinese panels . . . but they are still 70% less than what PV panels cost 10 years ago.

Brought to you by “National Petroleum Radio”. Actually a pretty straight forward story. Would have been nice to add that their are other choices besides just Trina solar. In fact, probably 20 too many companies in the poly and mono crystalline game these days. Also worth noting that SolarCity is getting ready to manufacture their own.

The premise of the NPR story goes along with Eric Loveday’s basic message. Solar PV is coming and it does go hand-in-hand with EVs. It will be no less than 30% of the fuel source for EVs, so yeah, it is noteworthy in the EV world.

“Also worth noting that SolarCity is getting ready to manufacture their own.”

Indeed . . . this is another problem with the ‘made in China’ bit. SolarCity is building a bit PV factory in upstate New York. One of the reasons they are doing so is because they said they were afraid that there could be a shortage of PV panels in the near future because the industry is growing so fast that they want to secure their own supply.

Future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades.

I don’t know what’s so wrong about it being made in China.

Unless I’m much mistaken, this entire conversation, and probably the NPR post, were typed up on China-made computers.

Even the most conservative estimate that assumes all the energy for producing PVs is from Chinese coal, still shows their 30-year lifetime footprint to be 10x-30x less than fossil electricity, depending on where the PVs sit.

And China itself uses this production to convert more of its grid away from coal and into solar.

This is just like the nit-picking into individual EV footprint: purposely neglecting to see the forest for the trees.

I don’t mean to imply that there is anything wrong with good panels from China (although there have been some problems with some substandard panels from China). I just want to point out that building PV in China is not why the price dropped massively. Better/cheaper raw materials, technology, and manufacturing is why.

What’s so wrong is anti-competitive practices, just like rare earths. And low-rate chips needed by defense contractors. And chips, routers, servers, etc. shipped with backdoors.

Allowing ANY single country to dominate an industry is a bad idea. The fact that the country is China, openly manipulating trade to boost its own industries and hurt other countries, is Exhibit A.

And this is all aside from diversification against forex issues.

It will be interesting to see Tesla’s direct effect on this market, after their home battery (+ Solar?) storage product announcement on the 30th of April…

I maintain that the whole home battery thing is more hype than anything else. It is expensive and unnecessary. But, it does provide Tesla with something they can claim is another market for their gigafactory output and thus lower risk. And it does provide a way to sell more expensive PV systems to remote off-grid homes and wealthy people that can’t handle a single hour without electricity.

The home battery thing (as being planned to be deployed by Tesla) will profoundly disrupt the current peek-metering monetization model of traditional electric utilitie vendors by empowering consumers to arbitrage off-peek rates against on-peek rates and to cusion on-peek load spikes. Also, when these home battery things are combined with a Solar City PV install, a consumer owning an electric car will have a dependable self generated fuel source that will power the majority of their miles driven.

What it does for Tesla’s economy-of-scale with regards to lowering the battery pack cost for their cars is significant. The exact battery sub-modules being manafaturer for the Tesla electric cars is what is going into the Tesla home battery units so it’s allowing Tesla to levera their existing manufacturing infrastructure.


Well, I disagree. The marginal amounts you can make by time-of-use arbitrage will not likely cover the added cost of the batteries. You are better off spending that money on more solar pv panels such that you cover 100% of your net electricity needs.

Batteries are great for off-grid and for wealthy. But for the foreseeable future, they are not a good economic value (unless battery price come WAY down).

Since businesses now are doing energy price arbitrage in CA, I think you might be wrong.

Well, I was specifically talking about HOME batteries. Businesses that have to deal with demand charges certainly can make a good economic case. But homes generally don’t have to deal with demand charges.

P&GE Tier 3 rates are $0.27/kWh winter and $0.32/kWh summer (when usage is higher).
Under TOU, off-peak rates are $0.10/kWh.
Even if you add $0.02/kWh for the round trip, and say it’s $0.12/kWh, that’s some pretty good arbitrage potential in So Cal.

The prime market for a solar city net-metered inverter/battery will no doubt be downstate new york, what with its $1.20 / kwh SUPERPEAK rate (2 to 6 pm, summer months). It will be interesting to see the sizes offered. Even a diminutive 5 kwh storage system and a 1200 watt inverter would provide enough electricity to run the refrigerator, television, and energy efficient washing machine (200 watts on average over its cycle time) during these hours. If the homeowner put a time clock on the air conditioner to allow the temp in the house to raise a bit and wait to after 6 to start cooling again (possibly precooling before hand), it will greatly reduce the need for any new central plants, since the homes themselves will have the Peaking Plants, owned by the homeowner. Many argue with me regarding my dislike of Nuclear plants, especially when it comes to building more of them. Long term, Wind and Solar will be 1/4 the cost of New ‘reduced cost’ nuclear, and the combination of home battery storage and home solar panels will greatly reduce the ‘new technology’ variability of output. A group of clouds passing by, natural or not, will not… Read more »

Oh, you are quite right that nuclear is damn expensive. And they take a long time to build. And they are massively subsidized by the Price-Andersen act and government backed loans.

But I still think we should build a few nukes to help replace coal plants, to deal with the stragglers that refuse to install solar PV, to deal with people that refuse to allow wind turbines anywhere near them, and to deal with the very rare freak condition wherein there is too little sun AND wind for a significant period.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of nukes but I’d MUCH rather have a nuke plant than a coal plant. And since we still get around 39% of our electricity from coal, I’d certainly take a few more nukes to close down a few more coal plants.

Soon home solar will soon be much cheaper than the batteries need to store that energy. At that point it will make more financial sense to use inefficient electrolysis to store extra energy as hydrogen.

You’re missing the point. Storage gives you a leverage that doesn’t exist with onsite solar alone, or even local or (to a lesser extent) regional solar. Even a small amount of storage has a multiplier effect, and will make our energy transition smoother (literally) than Germany’s.

Oh, and if you think double-conversion of hydrogen (~63% efficient, then just ~63% AGAIN) makes sense, then go ahead and waste your money, please.

Home batteries may be the only defense against the oncoming barrage of fees and penalties for installing solar that ALEC is pushing. Their argument is that as long as you are tied to the grid, you should have to pay transmission fees for net-metering. They call people with solar panels “freeriders” and “leaches” off of the grid. In other words, they want to CHARGE YOU for the transmission costs of the electricity you put INTO the grid. Not the net amount at the end of the month, but every kWh you push onto the grid every hour of every day. Then they want to charge you AGAIN for the transmission costs of drawing electricity off of the grid while your solar panels aren’t producing electricity. The only electricity you wouldn’t be charged a transmission fee for would be the electricity you use directly from your solar panels. Here is how this would work. Let’s make up a bunch of numbers that are just for the purpose of easy math (these aren’t going to balance). Let’s say you have a 5kW solar install. Your bill averaged $200/mo before installing solar, and $0 after. Alec contends that $100 dollars of your old… Read more »
“…..They charge you another $50 dollars in transmission….” That’s because the guys writing the laws are either buffoons or else in-bed with the Utility CEO’s. As it is, the $50 only helps the CEO collect his $millions paycheck because the excess electricity generated during the day goes back to the pole, then right back out to your next door neighbor. My Utility, occassionally tries a scam but then they got shot down by the populace rising up complaining to their legislators. They want us to pay for a Smart Metering Program (the feds pick up the other 50%), and, in the application, the utility says “It will neither improve service, nor improve reliability”. So, why would anyone in their right mind want to pay more like Californians do, with no tangible nor intangible improvement other than for the CEO? One big car wash chain around here actually totally disconnected from the “GRID”, getting 100% of their energy from Natural Gas. They made their own power at reasonable efficiency since they needed the waste heat anyway. It wasn’t until NG lowered their demand charges that the car washes decided to connect back to the “GRID”. Before that, the car wash would… Read more »

Ah . . . but here is the thing. I don’t think we really need batteries . . . all we need is the THREAT of batteries. And I think RMI is doing a great job with this. They’ve put out a couple reports talking about how solar + battery can really destroy utilities. And if the utilities fear losing customers COMPLETELY compared to just charging PV owners a $10/month connection charge . . . they’ll start to see the $10/month connection charge as the better option.

Strange protectionist policy… Until batteries are cheap enough, you could use your solar power overproduction to heat the water in your boiler.

If you had electric hot water, great.

I, like most of my service area, have a gas water heater. Gas is already stored against demand peaks as CNG or LNG, so there isn’t anywhere near the drive to do arbitrage.

…oh, and as a gas replacement, electricity is pretty bad by comparison at heating water. Which is why we, who have the ability to install gas heaters, all did so.

Yes, I run my hot water heater by dc directly from 6 pv panels.

I think you’re (the author) correct in that while solar isn’t an EV, some of the issues are inextricably tied. Solar is transforming the energy market… and so are EVs, and they CAN be extremely complementary, assuming pricing signals are set appropriately. It’s not really a true statement, but I often like to quip “Solar is killing the electric utilities, but EVs are going to save them.” They just need to transform into an energy shuttling service, and ensure it’s all priced appropriately.

The connection between EVs and PVs is HUGE. Just ask me, Peder, famous Republican George Schultz, Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, and other owners of both an EV and a PV system. Generating all your transportation fuel with the sun is quite liberating.


True, not all people who buy an EV will install solar.
But, the utilities have to check their kWh pricing to make this market work for them. Or they will drive customers to home solar.

Utility’s now have the opportunity to install commercial size solar, that will beat consumer solar on price.

Will they do it?

Or will smart consumers install solar PV on their own homes before the utility steals all the opportunity?

It’s the direct comparisons to other forms of electric generation, that have 85-90% capacity factors, that bothers me a bit. You don’t get much more than 20% of those 6,201MWs, from solar. Then, take maybe 80-85% of the 20%, after giving up the losses from uploading to your ESS and then downloading to your Tesla battery, at night.

It’s much, much easier to find renewables over-stated, for what they actually contribute. Such news, as Buffet’s recent purchases of wind power capacity, at $1.30/watt are wonderful to hear, but even numbers like that need to be effectively doubled, before comparison back to conventional sources ($1 natural gas, $3-4 coal). This isn’t discounting for intermittentcy, or pollution.

The U.S. gets its first 6MW off-shore windmill, by Q4 2016. 150 meter rotar span!
I think once this is up, people will rethink the taste Cape Wind left behind.

Don’t forget solar comes online during peak demand, that makes up for other shortcomings.

Not sure about your project in particular, but historically off-shore wind has been horribly expensive, with many projects cancelled due to the expense (sounds like the plethora of early Nuclear Projects cancelled due to horrific cost overruns, something on the order of 50% of them in the states in the early years). Anyway, there’s enough places for ‘on-shore’ wind where costs are dropping all the time to continue making wind viable.

They are very expensive. But they are very green, not close to any homes/businesses, and have a very nice capacity factor. Something like 40% for offshore wind compared to 25% for onshore wind. So although they are expensive, they are well worth doing . . . especially in places like the East coast where the water is pretty shallow and they have massive electricity demand.

You’re forgetting transmission losses saved by distributed generation. In turn, these save the financing costs of new transmission capacity. It’s a virtuous cycle, or as I stated above a multiplier effect.

You’re also implying that 100% of local generation is stored, then un-stored. Ridiculous. That’s a Bjorn Lomborg tactic.

Shine baby Shine!

I found out news that in May they are going to shut down six coal fired power plants in the United States. Seeing that 6000 megawatts of solar power is around it would make sense for the aging 1950’s and 1960’s coal plants to get knocked out.

I am considering Solar PV, and I am considering financing an installation through Dividend Solar ( Has anyone out there had any experience with these guys?

I don’t know anything about that outfit. But here is what I would suggest. If you own a home, look into taking a home equity line or 2nd mortgage out to get the cash. Then call a bunch of different installers and tell them you’d like a bid and you will pay cash.

Pick the lowest bidder that you trust.

This way . . . you get the 30% tax-credit AND the interest payments on your loan are also tax deductible. And you should get a low cash price bid.

This is my plan (here in San Diego) but I believe there is a huge markup in the prices I’m being quoted. I think it’s possible to save a few thousand dollars by getting a PV designer to do the plan and get the permit, then put the materials and installation out to bid. Would you agree or are margins a lot smaller than I think?

BTW, the lowest price I’ve been quoted is $3.65 per W for a 6.5 KW system.

Generating solar at over 6kW per hour from 10 to 2 most days… charges 2 LEAFs and energizes an 1800 sq ft home everyday here on a hilltop in sunny Martinez, CA.
Reflective asphalt shingles lower the attic temps… ceiling fans in all the bedrooms means almost never AC at night… not a bad arrangement. Definitely considering a Tesla Car and Battery to go with the Enphase MicroInverter and Suniva solar panel system… and adding another 12 to 15 panels to the 34 up there already. Loving it!

I recommend a whole house fan. With California’s climate, you can suck in lots of cold air at night and then lock it in all day and thus avoid the need for much AC if you have good insulation & windows.

And yeah, I’ve got Enphase microinverters as well and it makes it really easy to expand the system. And the website that they create for your PV is top notch.