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Solar Power Boom: 2012 Record Year For US Solar Installs

Installing rooftop solar panels

With the year not quite finished yet, 2012 has already been a record year for solar panel installations in the United States, and the solar power boom is set to continue.

A report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research has found that 684 megawatts of solar were installed in the September quarter.  This was actually down a bit from the previous quarter, but was up a massive 44% on the same quarter last year. It’s worth noting that the previous record for newly installed solar capacity for a year was set in 2011. It’s clear that solar power is going from strength to strength.

Installs of residential solar have been especially strong in the third quarter of this year. They’ve grown 12% from the second quarter, and many of those systems were leased rather than bought. Arizona, Colorado, California, and Massachusetts were the standout states for solar leasing – ranging between 57% to 91% of total installs.

According to the report, the U.S. could have 1.2 gigawatts of solar panels newly installed to January, making total installations for the year 3.2 gigawatts. That’s enough capacity to power around half a million average U.S. homes. That’s a lot, but obviously there’s still a great deal of upside.

One of the main reasons for the continuing increase in the uptake of solar power is the falling cost of residential solar (see our recent post: Price Of Solar Systems Continues To Drop In US).

The continuing boom in solar power is undoubtedly good news for the U.S. economy, not to mention for growth in jobs. According to the Solar Foundation, the solar industry sector already employs 119,000 Americans, which is an increase of nearly 14,000 from 2011.

Image CC licensed by Brian Kusler: Installing rooftop solar panels

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