Solar Boom Continues!

2013: another record year for the solar industry!

The much anticipated solar market report, U.S. Solar Market Insight Report: 2013 Year-in-Review, was released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research, and the stats are impressive!

4,751 megawatts (MW) of new photovoltaic (PV) capacity was added in 2013, 41% greater than what was added in 2012 and nearly 15 times the amount installed in 2008. There were 140,000 individual solar installations in 2013, supported by even more jobs: 142,000.  Solar accounted for nearly 30% of new generating capacity in the country, making it the second-largest source of new generating capacity for the year (behind natural gas).

Cumulatively, there are now 12.1 gigawatts (GW) of PV and 918 MW of concentrated solar power (CSP) operating at over 440,000 solar installations throughout the country. As depicted in the figure above, the boom has been driven in large part by the precipitous price declines for PV installations. The national average PV installed system price declined by 15% from 2012 to 2013, to $2.59 per Watt. Since the beginning of 2011, the average price of a PV panel has dropped by 60%!

The Southeast has been a significant contributor to the national solar boom. In 2013, North Carolina and Georgia brought online 335 MW and 91 MW, respectively. North Carolina was ranked 3rd in capacity added for any state in the country for last year, from a ranking of 5th in 2012. For the first time, Georgia also makes the top ten list as the ‘fastest-growing solar market in the nation’ ranked 7th for new solar capacity added in 2013, after being ranked way back at 22nd in 2012!

Amidst all this good news, however, the stats are less sunny for the Sunshine State. Like a sore thumb jutting into the Atlantic and Gulf, Florida ranked only 18th in new solar capacity added in 2013. The state had similar rankings the past couple years, sliding down from a promising 8th place ranking in 2010. Not surprisingly, Florida has the best solar resource east of the Mississippi River and a population nearly as high as North Carolina and Georgia combined. So why wouldn’t this large, sunny state be leveraging its most abundant resource and enable, rather than impede, the economic and environmental benefits associated with solar power? Lack of political leadership is part of the answer – consider sending a letter to Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, to demonstrate how much citizens want a solar-powered Florida.

Looking forward, 2014 is anticipated to be another strong year for solar – the report estimates a 26% rise in U.S. installations over 2013. North Carolina and Georgia are expected to continue their leadership thanks to a mix of legislative, regulatory, and utility leadership. As it stands, Florida’s leadership remains in question, so please consider sending a letter urging stronger leadership today.

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