Led by a booming residential market, Maryland more than doubled its amount of installed solar capacity in 2014, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. In addition, Maryland also had nearly half, 48 percent, of its new electrical capacity last year come from solar energy.
In 2014, Maryland added 73 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 215 MW. That’s enough clean, affordable energy to power nearly 25,000 homes. The report went on to point out that Maryland’s biggest solar gains came in residential installations, but commercial installations increased, too. Of the new capacity added, 40 MW were residential and 33 MW were commercial. Together, these installations represented a $221 million investment across Maryland – a 95 percent increase over the previous year.
“To put the state’s solar growth in some context, the 215 MW of solar PV installed today in Maryland is nearly as much as the entire country had installed by 2005. And frankly, the state is just scratching the surface of its enormous potential,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Looking forward, we expect 2015 to be another good year for new PV installations across the state, with growth topping 100 percent.”
Today, there are nearly 170 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Maryland, employing more than 3,000 people. Notable Maryland solar projects include:
Mount St. Mary's University Solar Farm was developed by First Solar. This photovoltaic (PV) project has the capacity to generate 14 MW of electricity -- enough to power more than 1,400 Maryland homes.
At 20 MW, Maryland Solar Farm in Hagerstown is among the largest solar installations in Maryland. Completed by First Solar, this PV project has enough electric capacity to power more than 2,000 homes.
Several large retailers in Maryland have also gone solar, including Staples, Walmart, General Motors, Verizon and Kohl's.
IKEA has installed one of the largest corporate photovoltaic systems in the state with 4,875 kilowatt (kW) of solar capacity at its location in Perryville.
In addition to a growing commercial sector, the Maryland residential market also continued to show big gains last year, with installed system prices dropping by 8 percent – and down a total of 49 percent since 2010. Nationwide, the U.S. residential market added 1.2 GW of installed capacity in 2014, marking the first time that this growing sector surpassed 1 GW of clean, affordable solar. Residential also continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the U.S., with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth.
“Today, the U.S. solar industry employs 174,000 Americans nationwide – more than tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined – and pumps nearly $18 billion a year into our economy,” Resch added. “This remarkable growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the U.S. and Maryland economies, as well as for our environment.”