The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) released its seventh annual U.S. Solar Market Trends Report which finds that, among other things, solar is an increasingly vital part of the U.S. economy. For instance, in 2013 the only new energy source to outpace solar (31 percent of all new electric generation) was natural gas (45 percent of all new electric generation).
A whole host of issues has allowed solar to become the second largest source of new energy in the U.S., easily continuing to blow past wind power. “Solar energy markets are booming in the United States due to falling photovoltaic (PV) prices, strong consumer demand, available financing, renewable portfolio standards (RPSs), and financial incentives from the federal government, states and utilities,” explains report author Larry Sherwood, vice president/COO of the the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).
Perhaps the most astonishing figure within the greater breakdown was the growth of residential solar. “Residential capacity installed in 2013 grew by 68 percent in the U.S., fueled by the increasing use of leases and third-party ownership of these systems. Over 145,000 residential PV systems were installed during the year,” the report finds.
The majority of all new solar was installed in California. “Fifty-seven percent of U.S. capacity installed in 2013 occurred in the Golden State, and the capacity installed during 2013 was 161 percent greater than what was installed in 2012,” according to the report. However, many of the projects that came online in California were multi-year projects that were completed in 2013.
“Thirty-four percent more PV capacity was installed in 2013 than the year before,” Sherwood says. That’s likely to continue in 2014. “Over the near term, the prospect for growth in solar installations is bright in all sectors.”
“The residential sector is growing in a large number of states, and many utility sector projects are under construction or contracted and will be completed in 2014 or later. The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30 percent provides an important foundational incentive for most installations. The ITC, combined with continued falling prices, state RPSs, and on-going net metering policies will sustain the market.”
The report also finds that the prices for distributed PV installations, like those at homes and businesses fell by at least 11 percent in 2013. Since 2009 the costs of such systems have fallen by 44 percent. Those lower costs, according to the report, have helped increase consumer demand for solar power.Tweet