According to the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research, U.S. solar power grew by 6.2 gigawatts in 2014, a 30% increase over the previous year–representing nearly $18 billion in new investment. Thousands of new photovoltaic (PV) arrays in homes, schools, businesses and utilities, as well as large concentrated solar power facilities raised the U.S.’s profile as one of the world’s leading adopters of solar power.
“Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research, noted that in just five years, the U.S. PV market—which does not include concentrated solar plants—has witnessed a fourfold expansion, from an estimated $3 billion in 2009 to $13.4 billion last year.”
Solar energy accounted for 32 percent of the nation’s new generating capacity in 2014, surpassing both coal and wind energy. Emerging solar states and large utilities desiring to take up renewable energy options are reasons for such increase, in addition the growing popularity of third-party leases offered by firms like SolarCity and Sunrun.
“Today the U.S. solar industry has more employees than tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter combined,” Rhone Resch, SEIA’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Many states have developed well-established solar markets in the last year, leading to the residential sector adding 1.2 GW of capacity in 2014, surpassing its previous annual record of 1 GW.
States rising in the solar ranks include New Mexico, Missouri, Maryland, New York, Texas and Hawaii, each adding close to 100 MW of solar capacity in 2014.
The southeast saw an increase as well. Tennessee and Georgia experienced increases in utility-scale solar and Louisiana and South Carolina sustained growth in the residential sector.
A continued boom is expected in U.S. solar markets is expected, with a projected 31% growth target for 2015.