Solar Industry Breaks 20 GW Barrier - Grows 34% Over 2013
The U.S. Solar industry achieved another record year in 2014, growing by 34% over 2013 to install nearly 7,000 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity. Within the photovoltaic (PV) sector, over 6,200 MW of capacity was installed, led by the residential and utility segments, which grew by 51% and 38%, respectively.
The concentrating solar power segment enjoyed its largest year ever with 767 MW of capacity installed. Together, the solar industry istalled 32% of all new electricity generating capacity in the U.S. - second only to natural gas. This growth is expected to continue, with an additional 20,000 MW of solar capacity projected over the next two years.
Other key takeaways:
- There are now over 20,000 MW of cumulative solar electric capacity operating in the U.S., enough to power more than 4 million average American homes.
- In 2014, with over 195,000 installations in 2014, nearly 645,000 U.S. homes and businesses have now gone solar and a new solar project was installed every 2.5 minutes.
- Growth in 2014 was led by the utility-scale sector, which grew 38% over 2013 to reach nearly 4 gigawatts (GW), and the residential sector, which crossed the 1 GW barrier for the first time while growing 51% over 2013.
- Since the implementation of the ITC in 2006, the cost to install solar has dropped by more than 73%.
- While residential costs have dropped by 45% since 2010, utility-scale costs have dropped more significantly, with recent contracts at prices below $0.05/kWh.
Solar Growth Expected to Continue Through 2016
Roughly 20,000 MW of solar capacity is forecasted to come online over the next two years, doubling the country's existing solar capacity. Growth is expected to be broad-based, with more than 16 states expected to top the 100 MW mark in 2016, up from 9 states in 2014. However, without congressional action, the upcoming expiration and reduction of the Investment Tax Credit is expected to lead a 57% decline of installed solar capacity in 2017.
Solar Helps Fortune 500 Companies Save Money
Data from SEIA's annual Solar Means Business report show that major U.S. corporations, including Walmart, IKEA and Macy's, are going solar at an incredible rate. The top 25 corporate solar users in America have installed more than 569 MW of capacity at 1,100 different facilities across the country as of August 2014.
Other key takeaways:
- 129 million people - 41% of Americans - live within 20 miles of at least one of the solar installations reviewed for the report (see the map below).
- The average price of a completed commercial PV project in Q2 2014 has dropped by 14% year over year and by more than 45% since 2012.
- The top 25 corporate users have more than doubled their solar capacity since 2012.
Solar Energy Powers K-12 Schools Around the Country
According to data from Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, a report published by the Solar Foundation with support from SEIA, there are nearly 4,000 K-12 schools in the United States with active solar systems, meaning more than 2.7 million American students attend solar schools. The report also found that thousands of other schools could save money by going solar.
Other key takeaways:
- 450 individual school districts could each save more than $1,000,000 over 30 years by installing a solar PV system.
- Of the 125,000 schools in the country, between 40,000 and 72,000 can "go solar" cost-effectively.
- The 3,727 PV systems at U.S. schools have a combined electric capacity of 490 MW, and generate roughly 642,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity every year.
Curious if your school has solar or might be a good candidate for solar? Find your school on our interactive map below. Want your school to go solar? Email your administrator.
As the solar industry grows, so does its benefit to the economy. According to The Solar Foundation, there are now nearly 174,000 solar workers in the U.S., more than a 20% increase over employment totals in 2013. These workers are employed at 6,100 businesses in every state. The increasing value of projects has injected life into the U.S. economy as well. In 2013, solar installations were valued at $13.7 billion, compared to $11.5 billion in 2012 and $8.6 billion in 2011.
Solar Companies Across the United States from SEIA's National Solar Database
For SEIA Members, there are even more resources available. Have all the industry data right at your fingertips with our handy cheat sheets. The Solar Means Business and Solar Market Insight Cheat Sheets are meant for you to print out and have at your desk. They summarize top-line data from the full reports. Download them now.
In addition, SEIA compiles all of the Major Solar Projects across the U.S. into an ongoing list. Members have access to a sortable Excel file of the MSP list. Click here to download a copy.