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U.S. Solar PV Tops 3.5 GW

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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the nation’s solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity now exceeds 3.5 GW. This figure is the result of a new system at the EIA for estimating the lower bound on total installed PV capacity. The figure includes both utility and customer-scale installations. The latter was not captured in previous estimates.

Of this 3.5 GW of installed solar PV, about 30% of it is considered utility-scale solar. The remaining 70% is found in consumer-sited installations, including commercial/industrial (42%) and residential (28%).

These customer-scale installation data were gathered starting in 2010, when electric utilities were first asked to report the capacity of PV installations for any net-metered customers. These data will give researchers the ability to more accurately track small-scale solar grown in the United States. Though, these data will still not capture off-grid PV systems.

For more details on the calculations behind this estimate, you can go to EIA's website (here).

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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