In a little-noticed report last month, Deutsche Bank’s markets research team walked through recent developments in the solar and storage industries and offered several bold predictions with enormous ramifications for the U.S. utility industry.
For starters, the company projected that by the end of 2016 total installed solar PV capacity could hit 47,000 megawatts (dc), with more than half of that being built in the next two years. Specifically, Deutsche Bank (DB) forecasts annual installations this year will total 12,000 MW and then jump to 16,000 MW in 2016. By comparison, just 10 years ago there was essentially no installed PV capacity in the U.S. The DB report, Crossing the Chasm, can be found here.
Out of this total, DB estimates that at least 20,000 MW, and perhaps as much as 30,000 MW, will be distributed generation. The push toward rooftop solar, whether on commercial or residential facilities, is expected to be so strong, DB added, that it will largely cushion the blow from the scheduled 2017 step-down of the investment tax credit (ITC). That year, the company said, new PV installations should still top 11,000 MW—easily topping any previous 12 months save the projected 2015-2016 boom years.
And these aren’t just forecasts. San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Company announced this week that it now has 150,000 solar-using customers spread across its California service territory—with 45,000 of those being added in 2014 alone. On average, the company said, it is now connecting about 4,000 new solar customers every month.
The rationale for the solar surge is easy to understand, DB continued—it all comes down to economics.