Every year, Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) produces a report that tracks solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States. It focuses on America’s top commercial solar customers and includes data from nearly 48,000 different commercial solar systems. The types of solar systems examined in the report include: on-site systems, off-site systems, company-owned systems, and third-party owned systems (PPA or lease). Although their report does not represent every commercial solar installation in America, it does capture over 70 percent of the country’s commercial solar capacity (through June 2022). Below, you will find 4 key takeaways from the SEIA 2022 Solar Means Business Report.
1. Top ranking companies
One thing that’s changed a lot in the last year is the ranking of top solar customers. In 2022, the tech company Meta (owner of Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok) jumped from 9th to 1st place in annual solar installations. By installing 3,588 megawatts (MW) of solar, Meta outcompeted its closest counterpart Amazon by 3 times. Apple came in 3rd place, losing its long-standing position as the leader in U.S. solar installments. The other top 10 companies were: 4. Walmart, 5. Microsoft, 6. Target, 7. Cargill, 8. Kaiser Permanente, 9. Anheuser-Busch, 10. Evraz North America.
2. Boom in off-site systems
Meta’s sudden jump to first place in commercial solar installments is primarily due to their increased off-site procurements. However, they are not alone in this venture, as 77 percent of U.S. commercial solar systems were built off-site since 2020. The SEIA report shows that there has been an increasing trend towards off-site, single-axis tracking solar in the past 2.5 years, and that this trend has led to installments in states that were before lacking in solar. Specifically, Virginia has seen a significant increase in solar installations since it houses many data centers for big tech companies who lead in solar.
3. Climate benefits accrue
Thanks to the large boom in off-site solar and the slow-but-steady growth of on-site solar, the U.S. has been increasing its sources of renewable energy. The companies examined in the 2022 SEIA report collectively offset 20,400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to taking 4,400,000 cars off the road. These offsets by commercial solar sites represent 2 percent of America’s carbon emissions in 2021 and are expected to double in the next few years as more solar sites are installed.
4. The future looks promising
he overall future trend in solar prices is that they are declining. The SEIA report highlights Biden’s IRA plan as being integral to this, with the help of other state/federal incentives. The SEIA report forecasts an 11 percent growth in on-site commercial solar, and a 45 percent growth in off-site commercial solar by 2027!
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