Last year was a record breaker for the U.S. solar industry. Overall the U.S. installed 4.75 gigawatts of photovoltaics (PV) and brought 410 megawatts of concentrating solar power (CSP) online. That’s according to the Solar Market Insight Report 2013 Year in Review report released today (March 5) by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research.
The report is the annual version of the quarterly report released by the two organizations that look at how the solar industry is —and it’s been performing better and better. This year’s annual report follows the success of the third quarter of 2013, the second best quarter for solar ever. However, the fourth quarter dwarfed the previous quarter as it usually has for solar.
“Since the solar Investment Tax Credit became law in 2006 installed solar capacity in the United States has grown from 680 MW—less than 1 gigawatt—to 13 gigawatts through the end of 2013,” said Ken Johnson, SEIA's vice president of communications during a press conference discussing the results. “It was s record shattering year fro solar in the last 18 months more solar capacity has been installed than in the last 30 years,” he added.
The growth of solar has increased exponentially over the past few years—like the curve of a hockey stick. “In 2011 we passed the 1 GW mark. In 2012 we became a multi-gigawatt market,” said SEIA Board Chair Arno Harris, the CEO of Recurrent Energy. “With 2013 I think we can truly announce there that solar has moved into the mainstream of the U.S. energy economy.”
“In 2012, the solar industry represented about 10 percent of all new installed capacity,” observed SEIA President Rhone Resch.
Last year the new PV installed in 2013 represented 29 percent of all the new electric generating capacity that was installed last year and $14 billion in economic value. “This is no longer a future prediction of the industry about the roll it can play, it’s really happening,” Harris said.
“Now that we have the second fastest or second largest new source of energy capacity in the country, I’m sure I’m going to have to pick up the lunch next time I get together with my other trade association CEOs,” Resch quipped, observing that previously he was the “little guy at the table.”
Much of the increase is related to the continual drop in solar prices. “The price of solar panels has dropped over 65 percent in recent years,” Harris explained. “The wighted average price of a solar power system has fallen 15 percent since 2012 and by the end of the year the system prices have fallen an additional 9 percent in the residential market, 16 percent in the non-residential market and 14 percent in the utility scale market.”
“In 6 states 100 percent of all new electricity capacity that was added in 2013 came from solar electricity,” Resch said. Many of those states were also already solar leaders and include Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Missouri, Vermont and Washington, D.C. Overall the majority of new solar was installed in five states California, Arizona, North Carolina, Massachusetts and New Jersey, which accounted for 81 percent of all installed solar throughout the U.S.
Resch also observed a change in the U.S. solar market. “It’s no longer just in California. The East Coast continues to spread out into new markets as well as in the Southeast,” he said.
Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research, said that 2014 will be another strong year for solar, with nearly 6 gigawatts of new PV alone slated to come online. “If you add on CSP we’ll certainly exceed 6 gigawatts of installations in the U.S. this year,” he said.
The residential market, according to Kann, will likely grow 47 percent in 2014. “That’s a big jump in the market segment that has been seeing the most consistent quarterly incremental growth for a few years now,” he said. “Residential solar in the U.S. is becoming the bedrock of demand for solar and is really a market segment that benefits from extremely attractive economics right now and from just a wide array of customers that have huge market potential and haven’t yet gone solar.”
Learn more about the report here: http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-market-insight-report-2013-year-reviewTweet