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4 revealing solar market stats

Posting in Energy
The U.S. solar industry had a record year in 2013 with photovoltaic installations increasing 41 percent over 2012, according to a report released Wednesday by Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. 

The Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013 (payment for full report) says the U.S. installed 4,751 megawatts of solar PV last year—about 15 times the amount installed in 2008. Evidence of explosive growth isn't the only compelling tidbit in the annual report. Here are four other stats that stand out. 

1. Wind lost ground

Check out the graphic below. In 2012, some 41 percent of new U.S. electricity generation capacity was wind-based. Coal held steady with 16 percent, natural gas led the pack with 31 percent and solar pretty much brought up the rear with 10 percent. 

My how things changed in 2013. While solar and natural gas experienced double-digit percentage growth, new coal and wind electricity generation capacity dropped off. 
 
gtm research-new electricity capacity.jpg
 
2. Cost of solar

The cost to install solar fell throughout the year, according to the report. By the end of 2013, the cost to install solar was 15 percent lower than the same time the previous year. 
 
gtm research-avg system price.jpg
 

3. Most of the growth was in the fourth quarter

In the fourth quarter, the U.S. installed 2,106 megawatts. That's about 44 percent of the annual total, a figure that made the fourth quarter the largest quarter in the history of the U.S. market. 

4. Arizona fell behind

Arizona installed the second-most PV with 421 megawatts. But that was far below its 2012 figure of 710 megawatts. 

Another interesting development on the state level is North Carolina. The state added 335 megawatts of PV in 2013, the third-most in the U.S. 
 
gtm research-states.jpg
 

Graphics: GTM Research

Photo: keith philpott

— By on March 5, 2014, 12:23 PM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure