Solar Energy Soars, Now Generates Enough Power for More than Two Million Homes

March 6, 2014 | 12:31 pm
John Rogers
Energy Campaign Analytic Lead

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 U.S. 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:

Solar soaring: healthy donuts from coast to coast, and plenty of places in between (Source: SEIA/GTM)

Solar soaring: Healthy donuts from coast to coast, and plenty of places in between (Source: SEIA/GTM)

Top stats

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

Top states

Steady as she goes: Q4 is always good, but 2013 took the cake (Source: SEIA/GTM)

Steady as she goes: Q4 is always good, but 2013’s took the cake (Source: SEIA/GTM)

  • 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.


About the author

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John Rogers is energy campaign analytic lead at the Union of Concerned Scientists with expertise in clean energy technologies and policies and a focus on solar, wind, and natural gas. He co-managed the UCS-led Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative, a multi-year program aimed at raising awareness of the energy-water connection, particularly in the context of climate change, and motivating and informing effective low-carbon and low-water energy solutions.