Sun-rich Hawaii is on pace to have its best year ever for new solar installations, according to the recently released U.S. Solar Market Insight Report compiled by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

With 12 percent of Hawaii’s homes already powered by solar – the highest proportion of any state in the nation – Hawaii’s growth in Q1 was once again driven by both new residential and commercial solar installations.

The residential market led the way with 16.4 MW of newly-installed solar capacity, followed by commercial at 9.4 MW, bringing the state’s total to 473 MW. But even more impressively, according to the report’s projections, Hawaii is expected to have 637 MW of installed solar capacity by the end of the year – enough to power more than 165,000 homes.

“At the rate it’s going, Hawaii will nearly double the amount of new solar capacity added this year compared to 2014,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Hawaii is now on pace to install 189 MW on new solar capacity this year alone. That’s a huge jump – four times more than was installed in Hawaii in 2011. Clearly, smart public policies like the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Net Energy Metering (NEM) are providing a tremendous boost to the state’s economy, generating hundreds of millions of dollars a year in economic activity.”

The report went on to point out that $77 million was invested in Hawaii in the first quarter of this year in new solar installations – and nearly $400 million since the beginning of 2014.

“Because of the strong demand for solar energy, thousands of new, good-paying jobs have been added in Hawaii in recent years, benefitting the state’s economy and environment,” Resch said. “To put Hawaii’s remarkable progress in some context, the 473 MW of solar installed in the state today is nearly as much as our entire country had in 2004. While homeowners are ‘going solar’ in increasingly large numbers, what’s also encouraging is the way many large retailers, including Macy’s, Target, Walmart and Safeway, are all embracing solar in a big way in communities all across Hawaii.”

Today, there are 115 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Hawaii, employing more than 2,200 people, representing manufacturers, contractors, project developers, distributors and installers. What’s more, from an environmental perspective, solar installations in Hawaii are helping to offset more than 503,000 metric tons of harmful carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of removing 106,000 cars off the state’s roads and highways, or not consuming 57 million gallons of gasoline.

“By any measurement,” Resch added, “solar is paying big dividends for Hawaii – and the best is yet to come, with what looks like another record-breaking year in 2015.”

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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