U.S. Solar PV Market Grows 41% in Record-Shattering 2013

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The U.S. solar industry had a record-shattering 2013, according to the Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013 report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Solar PV installations grew 41% over 2012, and at the end of 2013, solar operating capacity in the U.S. totaled over 12,000 MW of PV and 918 MW of CSP.

Update 3/5/14: SEIA and GTM Research will be on the panel of the next #SolarChat, Wednesday March 12, to discuss the findings from their report. Register here.

The U.S. solar industry had a record-shattering year in 2013, continuing a trend of rapid growth for solar in all sectors. 

That’s according to the Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013 report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

 

Solar PV installations increased 41% in 2013 over 2012 to reach 4,751 MW. In addition, 410 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) came online. Solar was the second-largest source of new electricity generating capacity in the U.S. last year, exceeded only by natural gas.

 

The U.S. installed 2,106 MW of solar in Q4 2013 alone —  44% of the annual total — making it by far the largest quarter in the history of the U.S. market. To give an idea of how big the quarter was for solar, over 60% more solar was installed in Q4 2013 than in the next-largest quarter.

 

At the end of 2013, there were more than 440,000 operating solar electric systems in the U.S., totaling over 12,000 MW of PV and 918 MW of CSP.

 

And the cost to install solar continued falling throughout the year, ending the year 15% below the mark set at the end of 2012.

 

“Perhaps more important than the numbers,” wrote Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research, “2013 offered the U.S. solar market the first real glimpse of its path toward mainstream status. The combination of rapid customer adoption, grassroots support for solar, improved financing terms, and public market successes displayed clear gains for solar in the eyes of both the general population and the investment community.”

 

“Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America, generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to power more than 2.2 million homes — and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of our industry’s enormous potential,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Last year alone, solar created tens of thousands of new American jobs and pumped tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy. In fact, more solar has been installed in the U.S. in the last 18 months than in the 30 years prior. That’s a remarkable record of achievement.”

 

California continues to lead the U.S. market. The state installed more than half of all U.S. solar in 2013 — amounting to more solar in that one year than the entire United States installed in 2011. The situation in other states was mixed. Despite installing the second-most PV in 2013 with 421 MW, Arizona didn’t match its 2012 total of 710 MW. On the other end of the spectrum, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Georgia had major growth, installing a combined 663 MW, which more than doubled their combined total from the year before. The top five states (California, Arizona, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) accounted for 81% of all U.S. PV installations in 2013. For more state details, see the SEIA site.

 

GTM Research and SEIA forecast another strong year in 2014, with 26% growth in the U.S. solar market. This will bring annual installations up to nearly 6 GW, with the cumulative total just shy of the 20 GW milestone.    

 

Key findings from the report:

 

  • The U.S. installed 4,751 MW of solar PV in 2013, up 41% over 2012 and nearly fifteen times the amount installed in 2008.

  • There is now a total of 12.1 GW of PV and 918 MW of CSP operating in the U.S.

  • There were 140,000 individual solar installations in the U.S. in 2013, bringing the total number of systems operating today to over 440,000.

  • Q4 2013 was by far the largest quarter ever for PV installations in the U.S. with 2,106 MW energized, up 60% over the next-largest quarter, Q4 2012.

  • More solar was installed in the U.S. in the last 18 months than in the previous 30 years.

  • The market value of all PV installations completed in 2013 was $13.7 billion.

  • Solar accounted for 29% of all new electricity generation capacity in 2013, up from 10% in 2012. This made solar the second-largest source of new generating capacity for the year, behind natural gas.

  • Weighted average PV system prices fell 15% in 2013, reaching a new low of $2.59/W in the fourth quarter.

  • GTM Research and SEIA forecast 26% PV installation growth in 2014, with installations reaching nearly 6 GW. They expect growth to occur in all segments but to be most rapid in the residential market.

  • The U.S. installed 410 MW of concentrating solar (CSP) in 2013, increasing total CSP capacity in the U.S. more than 80%.

 

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