Sun shines on US solar sector

| 8th March 2014
US Solar installations by quarter through 2013. Image: SEIA / GTM.
US Solar installations by quarter through 2013. Image: SEIA / GTM.
The US Solar sector boomed in 2013, with a record breaking volume of new solar capacity added - almost 5,000MW. And as John Rogers reports, the party is set to carry on through 2014.
The US has installed more solar in the last 18 months than in the previous 30 years combined.

The latest solar numbers have just come in, and the celebration continues.

The latest industry report shows another 4,751 megawatts (MW) went in during 2013, with great progress for both photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP).

Solar in the US now generates enough to power over 2 million average households.

The figures are from the just-released SEIA/GTM Solar Market Insight 2013 report, a treasure trove of data and, well, insights (including a factsheet and an infographic). The tip of the 2013 solar info iceberg:

Top stats

  • Installations in 2013 were 41% higher than installations during 2012, itself a record-breaking year.
  • The US has installed more solar in the last 18 months than in the previous 30 years combined.
  • Q4 2013 was by far the best quarter ever.
  • New installations increased US CSP capacity by 80%, to 918 MW.
  • Costs keep dropping: average PV system prices fell another 15% in 2013.


Top states

  • California led the nation again, accounting for more than half of the new capacity.
  • But the numbers have lots to say about lots of states, including North Carolina, which grew 171%, and Georgia, which grew a pack-leading 762%.
  • For utility PV installations, three states - Arizona, California, and North Carolina - accounted for 87%.
  • Six states got 100% of their new generating capacity from solar; nationwide, solar was behind only natural gas for capacity additions.

And more growth is clearly coming. The CSP figures above don't count the largest solar plant in the world, which went online in California last month.

And the report predicts 2014 solar installations of almost 6,000 MW, with growth fastest in the residential sector.

Blue skies are here, and ahead.

 


 

John Rogers is a senior energy analyst with expertise in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and policies. He co-manages the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative (EW3) at UCS. See John's full bio.

This article was originally published by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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