Solar Soaring: Q2 Results Show U.S. PV Capacity Approaching 10,000 Megawatts

September 13, 2013 | 3:10 pm
John Rogers
Energy Campaign Analytic Lead

Second-quarter U.S. solar results show a sector on the move, with strong growth, declining costs, and a great future. The results, from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research’s just-released Q2 report, show that the last quarter alone brought 832 megawatts (MW) of new solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity, the industry’s second-best quarter ever.

On The Move

SEIA/GTM findings show strong installation results, in terms of overall installations, the pace of installations, and the number of large-scale utility projects (emphasis added, here and below):

  • There are now over 9,370 MW of cumulative solar electric capacity operating in the U.S., enough to power more than 1.5 million average American homes.
  • It is expected that by the end of 2013, a solar project will have been installed, on average, every four minutes in the U.S.
  • The utility market had another strong quarter. 38 projects, totaling over 450 MW, came online throughout Q2 2013.   

The results also show continuing downward cost trends:

  • The average cost of a completed PV system dropped by 11 percent over the past year to $3.05/W.
  • The average price of a solar panel has declined by 60 percent since the beginning of 2011.

As the report points out, those trends are great for consumers, though tough for manufacturers.

The graphics at right show the impressive trajectories for both prices and installations.

Looking to Year’s End

Overall, SEIA/GTM say, 2013 is shaping up to be a strong year for both PV and CSP:

  • 4,400 MW of PV are forecasted to come online throughout 2013, which represents 30% growth over 2012 installation totals.
  • 2013 will be a record year for CSP as over 900 MW are expected to be commissioned by years end.
  • Cumulative PV capacity is projected to surpass 10 GW by year’s end.
  • Together, new solar electric capacity added in 2013 will generate enough clean energy to power over 860,000 average American homes.

For more on solar’s Q2 progress, see the related press release, factsheet, and infographic.

All in all, solar soaring is a story worth celebrating.


Posted in: Energy

Tags: Renewable energy, solar

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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.