Texas on Track to Become the Fastest-Growing Utility-Scale Solar Market in the U.S.

•Texas could become the fastest-growing utility-scale solar market in the United States, according to data compiled by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). There are more than 500 companies currently operating in the value chain.

•There are 566 MW of solar currently installed in the state, but capacity is expected to more than double this year, SEIA said.

•Texas will install more than 4,600 MW of solar capacity in the next five years, with more than 80% of it being utility-scale. Only California will install more solar capacity over the same timeframe.

Better known for its wind power, Texas is quickly becoming a leader in solar energy as well.

The solar industry is growing quickly, both in Texas and the United States as a whole. There are more than 1 million operating solar installations in the United States today, according to SEIA—and more than 90% came online during this decade.

Solar additions in the United States accounted for almost two-thirds of new first-quarter capacity, and SEIA predicts 94% growth this year. The solar industry installed 1,665 MW of solar PV early in the year, reaching a total of 29.3 GW.

“Texas is entering a period of unprecedented solar growth, dominated by a massive uptick in utility-scale solar deployment across the state,” Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president, said in a statement. “This strong demand for solar energy is generating thousands of well-paying jobs for Texans, hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits, and providing customers with another option for meeting their electricity needs. And the best part – this solar boom is just beginning.”

Of the 4,600 MW projected to come online in Texas by 2020, 4,000 MW will be utility-scale.

“True to form, everything is bigger in Texas – including solar,” Kimbis said. “With continued innovation and cost declines, the future for solar both in Texas and across the country is looking brighter than ever.”

The Texas solar industry employs more than 7,000 workers, including manufacturers, contractors, project developers, distributors and installers.

SEIA and GTM’s data can be found in the recent “U.S. Solar Market Insight, Q2 2016” report, which also concluded that more than 10 GW of utility solar PV “has been rushed through the development cycle” following the extension of tax credits, “and is still slated to come on-line this year.”

“At least another 4.5 GW (dc) of utility PV installations are expected to be nearly or fully finished with construction in Q4 2016, with official commercial operation expected in 2017,” the report said.

In the non-residential PV market, the report concludes that a 2016 rebound “should stem from new state-level policies established during legislative or regulatory proceedings in early 2016. These include extensions to NEM program capacity limits and the rollout of new non-residential PV incentive programs, particularly for community solar.”