6 Fresh Facts About the U.S. Solar Industry Boom

The U.S. solar market is on the upward incline as the industry continues to grow and post record totals. If 2013 is anything like the previous year, unprecedented growth levels will continue to prevail. The Solar Energy Industries Association’s recent recorded data illuminates that the industry is on the upswing. Here’s what its report reveals:

1. Posting a historic record for the U.S. solar industry, 3,313 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity were installed throughout the year of 2012. This number illustrates a 76 percent growth over 2011′s deployment totals. Additionally, 2012′s fourth quarter was its largest to date, as exceptional installation levels in the residential and utility markets drove 1,300 MW to come online.

2. According to SEIA and GTM Research forecasts, over 4,200 MW of PV and 940 MW of concentrating solar power are expected to come online in 2013 as the market continues to grow steadily.

3. Over 82,000 homes installed solar across the country in 2012, and 11 states installed 50 MW or more. The U.S. now has over 7,700 MW of installed solar electric capacity, which is enough to power over 1.2 million American households. The commercial market also installed over 1,040 MW in 2012, and there were 1,781 MW of utility installations in 2012.

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4. Solar is now more affordable than ever, as the average cost of a completed PV system dropped by 27 percent over 2012. This decline marks a trend, signaled by the average price of a solar panel decreasing by 60 percent since the beginning of 2011. Though the price drop is undoubtedly beneficial to consumers, the fall, due to a global oversupply, debilitates solar manufacturers.

5. The solar industry not only benefits its customers, but it also employs them. According to The Solar Foundation’s Solar Job Census 2012, more than 119,000 workers in the U.S. are employed by the solar industry, which is a 13.2 percent increase in employment totals from 2011. The businesses operate at over 6,500 locations in every state, and number 5,600.

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6. The state that installed the most PV capacity in 2012 was California, followed by Arizona and then New Jersey. While California and Arizona also boasted the top two spots for cumulative solar electric capacity, Arizona surpassed California by installed solar electric watts per capita. Nevada came in second on that list, followed by Hawaii. California placed sixth.

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