The world’s largest solar thermal facility, futuristic new buildings and phone charging points all led to a massive increase in the US’ solar industry last year.
In total the usage of solar panels, when compared to the year before, increased 41% in the country during 2013. This accounts for the largest growth the industry has ever seen in the country, new findings by GTM Research show.
Unsurprisingly, California is still leading the way in terms of areas that have the most solar power. More than half of the new solar set-up in the country during 2013 was installed in the Golden State.
Major projects across the state include Apple’s ‘spaceship HQ’, which will involve solar panels to help power the building and maintain its green status.
Solar was so big that it was the second-largest source of new electricity generating capacity in the US, and was only exceeded by natural gas.
Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, said: “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.”
“Last year alone, solar created tens of thousands of new American jobs and pumped tens of billions of dollars into the US economy. In fact, more solar has been installed in the US in the last 18 months than in the 30 years prior. That’s a remarkable record of achievement.”
The US installed 4,751 MW of solar PV in 2013, which is nearly 15 times the amount installed just five years ago. This was helped by the falling cost of installation, which is now 15% lower than it was at the end of 2012.
This year could also see a huge increase in the amount of solar energy being used in the US as California’s project BrightSource, which is believed to be the world’s largest solar thermal facility in the world, may become operational after tests last year confirmed it worked.
The solar park, located in the middle of Death Valley, will be able to power 140,000 homes and cost $2.2bn to create.
The solar uptake has not only been for major projects, as smaller initiatives have also been on the rise. Street Charge, which allows people to recharge their phones on the street, launched in New York last summer and is spreading further afield.
Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM research said the increase in solar panel usage showed the acceptance to use solar panels in the wider community.
“Perhaps more important than the numbers. 2013 offered the US 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.”
Image 3 courtesy of Mountain/Ash under creative commons licence, via Flickr.