The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Greentech Media today released the annual “U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review,” showing record levels of solar demand. U.S. businesses, homeowners, and utilities installed 3,313 megawatts of solar in 2012, representing 76% annual growth over the prior year. Cumulatively, more than 300,000 solar electric systems are today online in the U.S. Other key facts:
- While California remains the top solar market, key growth states in 2012 included Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, and North Carolina.
- Hawaii closed the year strong, installing nearly as much in Q4 as they did in the first three quarters of 2012 combined. Hawaii generates a greater percentage of their electricity from solar than any other state. Because Hawaii is heavily dependent on oil for electricity generation, Hawaii has the highest electricity prices in the country. These high prices are driving homeowners and businesses to install solar electric systems to control runaway utility bills.
- Last year Massachusetts quadrupled the solar capacity it installed in 2011, with much of the growth coming from a strong commercial solar sector, which broke the 100 megawatt mark in installed capacity for the year.
- Much of solar’s growth is due to cost reduction. From 2001 to 2012, the average retail price of electricity in the U.S. increased 35%, while the average installed price of a solar system dropped nearly 70%.
- 2012-installed solar installations were valued at $11.5 billion, compared to $8.6 billion in 2011 and $6 billion in 2010.
This year will be another growth year for solar. Analysts project at least 4.3 gigawatts of new installed solar for the year. Top growth prospects for 2013 include Hawaii, New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.