Solar power in the United States has come a long way — even in the past year. “Installed utility sector capacity in 2012 increased by almost two and one-half times compared with 2011 and represents over half of the installed capacity last year,” says Larry Sherwood, Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) vice president and COO and author of IREC’s Solar Market and Installation Trends Report 2013. According to the report, here are some of the latest facts and figures on the solar industry’s rise to power.
1. Solar energy capacity has reached 7,374 megawatts (MW) by the end of 2012. This is enough energy capacity to power over a million homes.
2. Over 3,300 MW of solar capacity came online in 2012 — that’s an 80 percent increase on the previous year.
3. California, Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and Massachusetts respectively round out the top five solar states in 2012.
4. Solar made up 12 percent of new generation capacity installed in 2012. Wind power was the top technology with 41 percent of the new generation installed — beating both coal and natural gas.
5. Per capita, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and New Jersey respectively top the list with over 100 Watts installed per person.
6. California remains the solar market leader with over 2,500 MW installed, cornering 35 percent of the market.
7. 283,000 of the 316,000 solar installations that are connected to the grid are residential customers.
8. As a whole, solar generation made up 0.3 percent of all electric generation in the US.
9. In 2012 alone, over 80,000 residential customers installed solar panels making up 90 percent of all solar installations for the year.
10. The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census found that the solar industry currently employs nearly 120,000 Americans.