US solar has enjoyed another record-breaking year, adding 7.3GW of new generating capacity in 2015, according to new data released this week by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
This is the first time that new solar installations outstripped the amount of new natural gas capacity coming online.
Solar growth- across the US
In 2015 solar supplied 29.5% of all new electric generating capacity in the US, delivering a year-on-year growth rate of 17%. The data also shows that the solar market growth is widespread across the US - more than 13 states installed over 100MW of solar power each, with California, North Carolina and Nevada leading the installation race.
In the domestic market, solar grew 66% compared to 2014, installing more than 2GW of new capacity. Meanwhile, the utility-scale sector grew by 6%, and was responsible for over half of all new capacity added in 2015.
SEIA president Rhone Resch said 2015 had been a "monumental year" for the US solar industry. "Over the next few years, we're going to see solar continue to reach unprecedented heights as our nation makes a shift toward a carbon-free source of energy that also serves as an economic and job-creating engine."
Congress supports clean energy
The news comes amid analyst predictions that the US is poised for a renewables boom, following Congress approval of a multi-year extension for crucial industry tax breaks late last year. A suite of tax credits for wind and solar projects was approved by Congress in December 2015, providing investors with a relatively stable investment climate through to 2020.
Following the extension, 17 state governors unveiled the Accord for a New Energy Future, a new initiative committing them to increased investment in clean energy capacity and grid upgrades.
Specifically, the new Accord promises that signatories will "diversify energy generation and expand clean energy sources"; "modernise energy infrastructure"; "encourage clean transportation options"; "plan for energy transition"; "work together to make transformational policy changes"; and "help secure a stronger national energy future".