Renewable Solar Energy

The U.S. renewable solar energy market has been expanding at better than projected rates. The industry’s growth continues to set records, and 2013 is expected to be yet another record setting year. In first quarter 2013, the renewable solar energy industry saw 723 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity installed, representing a 33 percent increase over the first quarter of 2012. The U.S. has over 8,500 megawatts of installed renewable solar energy; enough to power roughly 1.3 million average size American homes. In the residential market, the industry has seen a 53 percent increase in first quarter 2013 over the same quarter in the prior year.

The reason for all this growth stems from falling renewable solar energy costs, making renewable solar energy more affordable than ever. The average cost of a solar panel has dropped as much as 60% since the beginning of 2011. Some states have reported dropping their solar costs by 44% over the past five years, with other states following the same lower cost patterns nationwide. Some factors leading up to lower solar costs are tax incentives to consumers who use renewable solar energy as well as lower prices for system installations. Not only are parts, such as inverters and mounting hardware, less expensive, but permitting and general installation fees have also been lowered.

But renewable solar energy has a greater impact than just falling costs and incremental growth. Renewable solar energy’s impact on the economy has grown just as steadily. About 120,000 renewable solar energy employees work in the U.S., a 13.2 percent increase over the employment total in 2011 and doubling industry job growth in the last three years. These solar energy workers are employed in every state for as many as 5,600 independent businesses. The economic injections have been paramount as well, with 2012 installations valued at $11.5 billion.


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