Over the past six years, solar PV has been one of the fastest growing energy sources in the United States, with a compound annual growth rate of of over 50% since 2007, Clean Edge has reported.
This will not come as a surprise to those who know that solar technology has been on an exponential growth curve for many years. Some have predicted that this will continue for years to come, so that solar will become the world’s main power source relatively quickly.
Overall capacity of U.S. solar panel installations has now exceeded 10 gigawatts, according to NDP Solarbuzz. Further, during the the first half of this year, over 1.8 GW of new solar capacity was added in the United States. In addition, cumulative solar PV installations over the next 18 months are predicted to grow an additional 80%, reaching over 17 GW by the end of next year.
The U.S. is only the fourth country in the world to pass the 10 gigawatt mark of installed solar PV capacity. The other nations that have over 10 gigawatts are Germany, Italy, and China.
A main reason for the fast growth of solar is the steep price decline over the past couple of years. Average solar system prices have dropped from about $6/watt two years ago to around $4.25/watt for residential solar installations today. Various state solar incentive programs have also helped to stimulate the market for solar power.
Image CC licensed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Solar panel arrays in Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., March 12, 2013