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GTM Research, Solar Energy Industries Association release 2013 solar industry report

US solar market grew 41% last year, a record for the industry.

The newly released report, "US Solar Market Insight: 2013 Year in Review," reflected a continuation of what SEIA called the "explosive growth of the U.S. solar industry.

Following are some of the highlights featured in 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. 
  • 410 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) came online
  • Solar was the second-largest source of new electricity generating capacity in the U.S., exceeded only by natural gas.
  • The cost to install solar fell throughout the year, ending the year 15% below the mark set at the end of 2012.
  • At the end of 2013 there were more than 440,000 operating solar electric systems in the US, accounting for upwards of 12,000 MW of PV and 918 MW of CSP.
  • The US installed 2,106 megawatts in the fourth quarter alone, 44 percent of the annual total. This makes Q4 2013 by far the largest quarter in the history of the U.S. market, exceeding the next largest quarter by 60%.
  • 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 behind natural gas.

From a regional perspective, California continues to lead the US market, accounting for more than half of all installed solar units in 2013. In fact, the state installed more solar last year than the entire United States did in 2011. Despite installing the second-most PV in 2013 with 421 megawatts, Arizona didn’t live up to its 2012 total of 710 megawatts. On the other side of the spectrum, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Georgia had major growth years, installing a combined 663 megawatts -- more than doubling their combined total from the year before. On the whole, the top five states (California, Arizona, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) accounted for 81% of all U.S. PV installations in 2013.

“Perhaps more important than the numbers,” writes 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.”

Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, believes the numbers reflect the tremendous growth opportunities for solar in both the short- and medium-term. "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,” he stated. "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 U.S. in the last 18 months than in the 30 years prior. That’s a remarkable record of achievement.”

The full US Solar Market Insight Report may be purchased online.  

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity