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Commercial Solar Blog

5 Surprising Facts About Solar Power Today

October 24, 2013
By REC-Admin

REC Solar has been installing solar for over 15 years now, so not much surprises us in the solar news world. However, when we saw these 5 surprising solar facts come across our radar recently, we just had to share:

Surprise #1: A solar system is installed every 4 minutes in the U.S.

We knew solar was growing, but we didn’t know that there’s a home solar system being installed in the U.S. every 4 minutes. That amazing stat comes from GTM Research, which tracks solar installations in the U.S.

If trends continue, the United States will have 1 million residential solar installations by 2016, which is 10 times the number of installs that existed in 2010.

Surprise #2: There are more solar workers in the U.S. today than coal miners or Hollywood actors.

Here’s another sign that solar works—pun intended. According to a 2012 census from the Solar Foundation, there were 119,000 paid solar workers in America in 2012.

To give that figure some perspective, there were only 70,540 working actors in the U.S. during the same period. If you want to compare solar to another energy industry, there are now more solar workers than coal miners, who totaled 87,520 in 2012.

Click here and see the solar worker numbers for your state. Also, if you’re looking for a solar career with a great solar company, be sure to check out REC Solar’s job board.

NREL_Germany vs USSurprise #3. Cloudy Germany produces way more solar power than the U.S.

While solar is growing fast in the U.S., we have a long ways to catch up to Germany. Germany is smaller than Texas and has about as much sun potential as Alaska—not much.

In terms of solar energy output, Germany currently produces 34,558 megawatts of solar power, while the U.S. currently produces just 7,962 megawatts. That means that Germany produces more than four times as much solar power than the U.S. does today.

How did Germany do it? The short answer is that Germany decided to phase out nuclear power in the 1980’s. To replace those nuclear power plants, Germany’s parliament created great incentives that encouraged people and businesses to install solar, wind, and other clean energies. The result is that Germany is now breaking solar records.



Surprise #4: A solar powered catamaran has now traveled around the world on clean solar energy.

A solar powered catamaran called PlanetSolar has just finished traveling around the world on clean solar power, while also performing scientific research on the ocean’s Gulf Stream current. One of its final destinations was a trip to New York Harbor. Coincidentally, REC Solar recently entered the New York area solar market, but not like this. (Photo courtesy of PlanetSolar.)

Check out this video of their New York to Boston leg:


Surprise #5: California is almost out of solar rebates

Some people believe that solar isn’t affordable without some kind of state rebate, but the truth is that most of California’s utilities ran out of rebate funds in early 2013. The only rebate funds left is in Southern California, but that’s only about $125 for the average home solar system.

While there is still a 30% federal investment tax credit, the price of solar is now at a level where homeowners can receive a reasonable return on their solar investment without any state rebate. If you’d rather not use the tax credit, you can also pay nothing up front with a solar lease and receive 10% to 15% off your electric bill.

If you’re surprised about this last fact or any fact mentioned here, then get a free solar quote and see if the numbers work for you. Start here.