Solar power finally crashed its way onto the U.S. power grid last year. This changes the way we produce and consume energy. We can look forward to Solar being a primary power source. 2013 was a record year for the solar energy industry. There was 4.75 gigawatts of solar energy systems installed. Plus there were 2 gigawatts in just the fourth quarter alone.
Solar is now the second largest source of new electricity. Therefore, generation in the U.S. last year was only behind natural gas. New natural gas made up almost half of the new electricity. Solar made up about a third of new electricity. Wind delivered about 7 percent of new electricity. Coal power only made up 10 percent of the total.
The amount of solar people installed last year was 41 percent higher than in 2012. The United states now has over 12 MW of Solar Energy. Solar thermal power uses the sun’s heat to generate electricity. In contrast to solar panels which convert sunlight directly into electricity. You can see this at the world’s largest solar thermal plant Ivanpah.
The rate of growth in solar has been dramatic. Over the last 18 months, even more solar has been installed than in the last 30 years. Half the solar systems in the United States were installed in California.
Some researchers are forecasting a slightly slower growth. They predict 26 percent for this year. It would bring the amount of solar installed in 2014 in the United States to 6 gigawatts. If solar installations hit that target, we will have just under 20 gigawatts of solar power.
SOLAR INSTALLED FACTS:
- The market value of all solar panel installations completed in 2013 was $13.7 billion.
- Weighted average solar panel system prices fell for you by 15 percent in 2013, reaching a new low of $2.59/W in the fourth quarter.
- There were 140,000 individual solar installations in the U.S. in 2013.
- Q4 2013 was by far the largest quarter ever for solar panel installations in the U.S. with 2,106 MW, up 60 percent over the next largest quarter (Q4 2012).