For months, much of the country has been submerged in polar vortexes, blizzards, snow, and just plain bitter cold, but as the calendar pages rapidly turn towards spring, there is some sunnier news to greet those emerging from their igloos on the east coast — namely, that the US solar energy market ticked up 41% in 2013. According to a new report by Greentech Media and Solar Energy Industries Association, “solar made up 29 percent of new energy-generating capacities in the U.S. in 2013,” with more than 440,000 operational solar systems in the country by year’s end.
Perhaps even more significantly, the cost to install solar fell significantly as well — it was 15 percent cheaper to install a solar system at the end of 2013 than it was at the end of 2012. The cost of solar has dropped steadily since 2000, coinciding with increased numbers of installations. Most of the photovoltaic installations are in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and North Carolina. Those states accounted for 81 percent of all new installations in the U.S. in 2013. California alone accounted for more than half of all installations last year.
According to Solar Energy Industries Association president and CEO Rhone Resch, more solar has been installed in the U.S. in the last 18 months than in the 30 years prior. Countrywide, 60 percent of solar installations were in utility grids, about 23 percent were non-residential and about 16 percent were residential installations. Both Greentech Media and Solar Energy Industries Association predict that 2014 will be strong as well. They project a 26 percent growth in the U.S. solar market, with 6 gigawatts of new installations.