The United States is demanding green energy and the proof is in the pudding. A new report shows that 2011 saw more than double the solar panels installed from the previous year, and 2012 has already started to look even stronger. The study, released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association showed that the solar industry pulled in $8.4 billion last year.
Installation of photovoltaic panels continues to grow, with solar projects totaling 1,855 megawatts in 2011 alone, compared to just 887 megawatts the year before. These projects ranked the United States as the fourth largest solar market in the world, a jump that just a few years ago did not seem possible. After 2010, last year was not expected to be as booming in the solar industry as it was, so many companies reduced their projected forecasts.
But the success of the solar installer industry in 2011 has raised the bar for 2012. The GTM and SEIA are anticipating 35-50% more construction in 2012, totaling a predicted 2,500-2,800 megawatts. Several utility-scale commercial solar projects, which yield power for the wholesale electricity market, are in the works, and would bring 3,000 megawatts of power in 2012, with another for 6,000 megawatts anticipated to finish in 2013 or 2014. The latter two projects are large scale solar plants by First Solar and SunPower Corp SPRW.O. Installation on private homes increased by 11% from 2010 to 2011, showing that even the private sector is enthusiastic about green energy.
These exciting figures have caused the GTM and SEIA to estimate that by 2016, the United States’ solar demand will double. As the cost of solar installation becomes more affordable (the average price decline 20% last year), more and more companies and private citizens in the United States will be taking advantage of clean, green solar power.