US solar shattered records in 2023, but will this continue in 2024?

Solar has a strong growth outlook, but many uncertainties lie ahead

3 minute read

The US solar industry installed 32.4 gigawatts-direct current (GWdc) of capacity in 2023, a remarkable 51% increase over 2022. After installation volumes shrank 9% in 2022 due to various trade actions impacting solar imports, supply chain stability helped the industry get back to business in 2023. 

But many uncertainties lie ahead for the US solar industry, particularly during an election year. Multiple policy and economic factors could dictate the future for the US solar industry. In our US solar market insight Year in Review 2023 report, created in collaboration with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), we forecast a Bull and Bear case scenario for the US solar industry in addition to our Base case.

Fill in the form at the top of the page for a complimentary copy of the 15-page executive summary. Or, read on for some key highlights. 

A Bull case with increased supply chain stability, more tax credit financing, and lower interest rates would increase the outlook by 17% 

Our Bull case envisions a future with fewer supply chain constraints on solar equipment. We assume Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will allow increasingly more shipments of modules made with non-Xinjiang Chinese polysilicon to enter the country. Sources of supply that aren’t subject to anticircumvention tariffs continue to increase.   

As imports from other countries rise, the current oversupply situation for modules is exacerbated. This heightens competition for domestic manufacturing in our Bull case. As a result, domestic facilities are delayed or do not ramp up production as quickly. But overall, increased supply will help prevent project delays. 

Our Bull case also assumes better financing conditions for renewable energy, a faster buildout of transmission capacity, and rapid interconnection queue reform amongst other factors. More details on the assumptions for each segment can be found within the full report. 

Our Bull case results in a 17% increase in total solar installations through 2034 relative to the Base case, translating to an additional 86 GWdc of capacity. 

A Bear case with supply chain constraints, less tax credit financing, and static interest rates would decrease the outlook by 24% 

Our Bear case flips many of the Bull case assumptions in the opposite direction. This scenario envisions an increase in trade actions and other measures that limit supply of solar equipment. This constrains supply to the extent that utility-scale solar (which is highly reliant on imported modules) is limited in the near-term before more domestic manufacturing comes online.  

Thanks to solar equipment import limitations, domestic manufacturing accelerates to meet demand and helps to alleviate supply chain constraints within a few years. We assume more domestic manufacturing comes online at a faster pace, particularly for cells and wafers. 

The Bear case also assumes a much worse environment for financing, including limited tax equity financing availability and challenges in ramping up the tax credit transferability market. Transmission buildout, interconnection queue reform, and other factors work against growth in the solar industry.  

The Bear case results in a 24% decrease in total solar installations through 2034 compared to the Base case, a reduction of 120 GWdc 

Overall, our alternative scenarios indicate there could be a 200 GWdc swing in solar installations over the next decade. Our scenarios will help the industry identify different growth paths for the solar industry as various policy and economic factors become reality.  

In our Base case, solar deployments to quadruple by 2034 

In our Base case outlook, total solar deployment is set to grow to more than 670 GWdc by 2034, nearly quadrupling from today’s level. While we expect about 38 GWdc of capacity installations in 2024, typical volumes will be in the 48-50 GWdc range from 2030 onward.  

While this industry is larger than it has ever been, annual growth over the next 10 years will average 4% compared to 25% for the prior decade. The challenges that currently limit growth in this industry–particularly transmission and interconnection limitations–will only become more heightened over time. Addressing these limitations is key to meeting both decarbonisation goals and growing power demand. 

Learn more 

The full report explores each segment in detail and highlights the precise assumptions made in our alternative scenarios. Fill in the form at the top of the page for a complimentary copy of the 15-page executive summary.