The year 2012 saw a 76% financial growth of the solar photovoltaic (PV) market in the US, according to cleantechnica.com and other reliable sources. The total market value of solar installations in the US is now $11.5 billion, up from $8.6 billion in 2011, which continues the drastic growth trend of solar in the past 5 years.
3,300 MW of solar power was installed in 2012, which set the record for solar power installed in a single year and almost doubled the total solar capacity of the United States. California led the way with over 1000 MW installed in 2012, followed by Arizona with 710 MW and New Jersey with 415 MW. There is now over 7,700 MW of total solar capacity available in the US, which is enough to power 1.2 million households.
About 90,000 total solar installations were completed in the United States in 2012, which represents 11% of global solar installations. This marks a significant increase from the 7% share of global installations that the US had in 2011. Over 16 million solar panels were installed in 2012 alone, which equates to 2 panels per second of the typical workday.
All sectors of solar installations saw drastic increases—residential, commercial, and utility scale projects. While the number of installations increased dramatically, the average cost of residential systems dropped 20% between the end of 2011 and the end of 2012. This cost is expected to drop further in 2013 as advantageous financing options becoming increasingly available for solar.
While residential and commercial trends continued on a healthy trajectory throughout 2012, encouraging developments with utility scale projects highlight the solar market growth. Overall, 152 utility solar projects were completed in 2012, mainly in California and the Southwestern United States. More utilities are turning to solar power as it becomes cost competitive with fossil fuels. It is often much cheaper to build a new solar farm rather than a new coal plant.
One of the most prominent solar installers in 2012 was American owned and operated company SunPower. While some panel manufacturers struggled despite the growing solar market, SunPower continued to provide panels for a large number of solar installations. SunPower has been so successful in the past few years because it supplies the most efficient and reliable solar panels in the world, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. SunPower panels are the most chosen panels for residential solar installations and are fast becoming the most popular for commercial and utility scale projects as well.
Reliable projections estimate that an additional 4300 MW of solar power will be installed in the US in 2013 and there is no doubt SunPower will be responsible for much of this growth. The future is increasingly bright for the solar market as input costs go down, efficiency goes up, and sensible financing options become more widely available.
There is seemingly no decline in sight for the solar market. In the next 10 years, solar power is expected to flourish and possibly overtake all other energy sources as the most widespread and cost-effective energy supplier. The number of residential, commercial, and utility scale projects will almost certainly increase year after year in the near future.