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Solar Industry Scorches Records

March 6, 2014 - 5:24pm

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Workers install a solar energy system on the rooftop of a home in Golden, Colorado. More than 4,751 megawatts of solar power was installed in the United States last year, an increase of 41%. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Workers install a solar energy system on the rooftop of a home in Golden, Colorado. More than 4,751 megawatts of solar power was installed in the United States last year, an increase of 41%. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

A new report on the solar power industry signals a major milestone for America’s clean energy economy.  According to the latest GreenTechMedia Research and Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013 report,  photovoltaic (PV) installations continued their impressive growth, increasing 41% over 2012 to 4,751 megawatts (MW) of installed power in the United States.

Today, there are more than 440,000 operating solar electric systems in the U.S., totaling more than 12,000 MW of PV and 918 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP)—nearly fifteen times the amount installed in 2008.

According to the report, 100% of new electric generating capacity in Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Missouri, Vermont, and the District of Columbia came from solar energy. Cumulatively, 29% of all new electricity generation in the United States came from solar power in 2013, making solar the second-largest source of new generating capacity behind natural gas.

This tremendous growth shows that solar technology has extraordinary potential to power our daily lives, from providing electricity to power our homes and charge our cars, to reducing electricity costs for businesses, all while reducing our carbon emissions and creating new homegrown jobs.

The Energy Department’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative – a collaborative national effort launched in 2011 to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by 2020 – works with the solar industry to aggressively drive research, manufacturing, and market solutions that increase deployment of affordable and accessible solar energy for Americans.

Only three years into the decade-long SunShot Initiative, the solar industry is already more than 60% of the way to achieving SunShot’s cost target of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for utility-scale PV. For CSP, the levelized cost of electricity in the U.S. has decreased about 38%, from $0.21 cents per kilowatt hour to $0.13 cents per kilowatt hour—more than half way in cost reduction toward achieving the SunShot Initiative’s goal for 2020.

SunShot’s investments and the industry’s accelerated pace to meet the SunShot goal have made solar energy price-competitive with traditional energy sources in numerous states across the U.S., including California, Hawaii, and Minnesota. Learn more about the high-impact projects SunShot supports that are transforming solar technologies and the marketplace to drive down the cost of solar electricity across the U.S.

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