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US solar market sets record breaking year in 2016, says new report

Marcus Yam | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

The U.S. solar market had its biggest year in 2016, with more than 14 gigawatts (GW) of solar power installed, according to a new report released on Thursday.

Other key findings from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association's (SEIA) U.S. Solar Market Insight 2016 Year-in-Review report include: a new megawatt of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity going "on-line", on average, every 36 minutes; and the expectation that the total amount of installed solar PV in the U.S. will almost triple over the next five years.

"It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry," Abigail Ross Hopper, chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement.

"Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country and job numbers soared," Ross Hopper added. "The bottom line is that more people are benefitting from solar now than at any point in the past, and while the market is changing, the broader trend over the next five years is going in one direction – and that's up."

The report also forecast that the U.S. will see 13.2 GW of solar PV installed in 2017, a 10 percent fall compared to 2016 but 75 percent more than 2015.

Wednesday's report comes hot on the heels of news that New York state-supported solar power increased by nearly 800 percent from December 2011 to December 2016, with almost $1.5 billion leveraged in private investment.

"Our investments in this clean energy resource create jobs, reduce carbon emissions, support economic growth, and help build a cleaner, greener New York for all," New York's Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, said at the time.