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posted on 06 September 2016

U.S. Permitting For Solar Installations Still Accelerating

from Issi Romen, BuildZoom

Last year we harnessed BuildZoom's national repository of building permit data to gain visibility into the spread of U.S. solar power. Using simple back-of-the-envelope calculations we tracked the number of solar power systems in the U.S. and their distribution across regions, and we ranked the largest metro areas by solar power penetration - the estimated number of solar power systems per capita.


Three things have happened since:

- Our data repository has expanded to cover new areas

- We have become more sophisticated and are using machine learning to single out solar power permits

- Over 325,000 new solar power systems were added in 2015

Here we provide new estimates for 2015, as well as revised estimates for earlier years that incorporate these developments.

National Trend

The pace of new solar power addition continued to accelerate in 2015.


Regional Trends

Regionally, California maintained its position as leader of the pack, accounting for almost half of all new solar power systems. The northeast's share also continued to grow.



Solar Power Penetration

Hawaii continues to be in a league of its own with respect to solar power penetration. In the continental U.S., 7 of the 10 metro areas with the highest solar power penetration rates were in California. The other 3 were Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver. Boston came in 11th, presumably owing to strong incentives for solar power in Massachusetts.


Largest Installation Contractors

Most of the firms that market solar power to consumers rely on a large number of small local installation contractors. However, SolarCity and Vivint Solar stand out in their use of in-house installation teams. Therefore, it is not surprising that these two firms continue to top of the list of largest installation contractors. The remaining firms are either purely installation contractors, or companies that also market solar power but use a mixture of in-house and contractor teams for installation.


Author's note: For more information on BuildZoom's building permit data and what can be done with it, contact us.

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