Continuing its strong growth, the United States installed 1,354MW of solar photovoltaics in Q3 2014, up 41% over the same period last year. The numbers come from the latest edition of GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association's (SEIA) U.S. Solar Market Insight Report. According to the report, Q3 was the nation's second largest quarter ever for PV installations and brings the country's cumulative solar PV capacity to 16.1GW, with another 1.4GW of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity.

Solar is proving to be an important and growing source of new generating capacity for the United States. Through the first three quarters of the year, solar represents 36% of new capacity to come on-line, up from 29% in 2013 and 9.6% in 2012.

“Solar’s continued, impressive 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),” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for America. Every three minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is flipping the switch on another completed solar project, benefitting both our economy and the environment.”

The report tracks installations across three market segments: utility-scale, residential and non-residential which includes commercial, government and non-profit installations.

Historically, the U.S. utility-scale market segment has accounted for the majority of PV installations, and this past quarter continued the trend. The U.S. installed 825MW of utility-scale projects, up from 540MW in Q3 2013. This marks the sixth straight quarter in which utility-scale PV has accounted for more than 50% of the national total.

The U.S. residential market exceeded 300MW in a quarter for the first time in history. Impressively, more than half of this total came online without any state incentive. Residential continues to be the most reliable market segment, now growing 18 out of the past 19 quarters. GTM Research forecasts it to exceed the non-residential segment in annual installations for the first time in more than a decade.

“Residential solar has become a remarkably consistent, growing market” said Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research. “By the end of this year there will be more than 600,000 homes outfitted with solar, and we see no signs of a slowdown next year. By 2017, we expect the residential sector to be the largest in the U.S. solar market.”

The non-residential market continues its struggles of late, due in part to incentive depletion in California and Arizona. Installations in the segment were down 3% over Q3 2013. However, GTM Research and SEIA do expect year-over-year growth for the non-residential market.

The report forecasts the U.S. to install 6.5GW of PV in 2014, a 36% increase over the historic 2013.