In the waning hours of 2014 it’s time to celebrate solar power in the year. With states across the U.S. seeing major solar gains of all types from installations to new legislation and an anticipated 20 gigawatts of solar power online by the end of 2014—it’s been a good year for the oldest energy source, the sun.
In the GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA’s) most recent quarterly U.S. Solar Market Insight report, it found that 17.5 gigawatts of solar was already online in the U.S. “By the end of 2014, the U.S. should have over 20 GW of cumulative solar electric capacity, roughly the same amount that is expected to be installed just from 2015 - 2016,” SEIA observed in a fact sheet about the report’s findings. Given that the 4th quarter of each year has historically seen the most installations the figure could be realized.
The report stated that of all the new energy in the U.S. to come online in 2014 thus far, 36 percent of it was from solar sources, including photovoltaics and concentrating solar power (CSP) systems. The report also noted that residential solar power, accounted for a significant portion of the growth, with more than 800 megawatts of residential solar installed in the quarter.
The report attributed much of the growth to the continued drop in solar prices, particularly in photovoltaic solar panel prices. It stated that in less than five years the average prices of PV panels in the U.S. fell to $2.71 per watt. That’s down 63 percent since 2010, the report stated.
The growth of solar isn’t just because prices have fallen. States continue to increase their support of solar power. Many states are continuing to increase their support for solar. Earlier this month New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) upped the state’s efforts—again—by unveiling the state’s new Solarize strategy through its Community Solar NY initiative.
Even states that haven’t been or were expected to be strong supporters for solar energy are stepping up. South Carolina became the 44th state to enact a net-metering policy for residential solar in December. That policy has been one of the biggest things to help expand solar in states across the country.
Similarly SEIA observed that solar power in Utah is taking off. In the report it stated that: “A new growth industry is emerging in Utah, where residential solar installations in Q3 alone were equal to the amount installed in all last year. In addition, added solar capacity in Q3 was more than six times the capacity installed over Q3 2013.”
Likewise in Georgia the amount of solar installed by the end of the third quarter was more than double the same period in 2013. “In 2013, Georgia was the fastest-growing solar market in the nation, moving from 20th to 7th in yearly installations. While the Georgia solar industry is just beginning to take off, there are already more than 167 solar companies employing more than 2,600 people throughout the value chain in Georgia, including manufacturers, distributors and installers,” SEIA said. The organization also anticipated that solar will continue to grow in Georgia as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan comes into effect. That policy will help reduce airborne pollution from dirty power plants.
These are just a few of the ways solar has had a banner year in 2014. In 2015, as the end of the 33 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) comes closer—the 30 percent level is expected to end Dec. 31, 2016—expect another banner year for solar in the country.Tweet