Solar Statistics for 2013

closeup view of solar panels2013 brought with it a breath of fresh air to the solar industry by breaking records and setting the stage for some big things to come. While it’s still a bit early to call solar photovoltaics “mainstream,” we’re getting closer and closer to that point. We’ve compiled a list of some solar industry statistics of 2013 that really show just how far we’ve come, as well as how far we still need to go. Take a look at these statistics and give us your feedback, or, a statistic you know of that we didn’t include.
4 minutes
2006 – In 2006, U.S. solar installers were putting up a new PV system every 80 minutes.
2013 – 2013 saw a shift to the U.S. becoming a global leader in solar: At our current pace, every 4 minutes, another American home or business goes solar. This is a huge jump from where we were just 7 years ago.
By 2016, it is estimated that a new solar system will be deployed every 80 seconds.
To go from 80 minutes to 80 seconds in just 10 years is no small feat and it just goes to show that mainstream solar is fast approaching.
(Update: In his State of the Union speech, President Obama mentioned the fact that every 4 minutes another home or business goes solar. Thanks to GTM Research for providing us with that fact and thank you to President Obama for using it in your speech!)
100 gigawatts
2011 – The global solar industry had 50 gigawatts of capacity installed.
2012 – By the end of 2012, it had surpassed 100 gigawatts, doubling the capacity in just one year.
By the end of 2015, global solar capacity is expected to reach more than 200 gigawatts. In just four years, we could easily quadruple our solar generation capacity.
2.5 years 
The 100 gigawatt number is an important benchmark as it took nearly 40 years to get 50 gigawatts installed. In just 2.5 years, however, two-thirds of all solar PV projects were built worldwide.
10 gigawatts
In the third quarter of 2013, the U.S. installed 930 megawatts of solar generation, surpassing the 10 gigawatts of cumulative capacity. With these numbers, the U.S. joins a small group of other countries, four to be exact, that have reached this milestone. For the first time in 15 years, the U.S. will likely install more solar photovoltaics than Germany when 2013 comes to a close.
51 percent
The solar market has historically been dependent on state-level subsidy programs, however, California has begun phasing out solar incentive for residential projects. According to GTM Research, 51 percent of residential PV systems were installed without the help of the California Solar Initiative. This is impressive as it shows that even without subsidies, people are still willing to make the financial commitment to go solar.
$0.70 per kilowatt
Net metering continues to be a hot-button issue in the world of solar as more and more states continue to battle the issue out. This fall, the Arizona Corporation Commission agreed to a compromise in order to preserve net metering, charging solar owners $0.70 per kilowatt a month. People in the solar industry are now wondering if this will set a precedent for other states to follow.
$0.36 per watt
China beat everyone to the punch by taking hold of monocrystalline production and in turn being able to charge whatever it wanted for the solar cells it was manufacturing. However, since 2010, top Chinese manufacturers dropped monocrystalline solar module costs by 54 percent and are on a trend to produce solar modules for $0.36 per watt by 2017. China is able to do this by refining their processes and automating their plants to reduce labor costs.
59 percent
Twice this year, Germany’s wind and solar installations provided 59 percent of power in the middle of the day, while also providing more than a third of generation throughout the entire day. On one occasion in October, solar peaked at 20.5 gigawatts of capacity and wind reached 16.6 gigawatts, with both providing more than 436 gigawatt-hours of electricity. That forced 23 gigawatts of conventional power plants to ramp down. We’re not quite there yet here in America, but we’re pushing to get there and every year brings advancements in technology and access to affordable photovoltaics.
Germany’s second biggest utility, RWE, has lost one-third of its value over the last three years according to The Economist. In light of this, RWE has begun to embrace the reality of solar, announcing that it would become “a project enabler and operator, and a system integrator of renewables” based on a “prosumer” business model.
64 percent
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the non-hardware costs of residential solar installations now account for nearly two-thirds of the total system cost, up from 50 percent in 2011. These costs include labor, supply chain logistics, permitting, and customer acquisition.
$1 billion 
If the U.S. solar industry is going to hit the 362,000 installations in 2016 forecast by GTM Research, it will spend more than $1 billion to get the customer leads needed. That amounts to $0.49 per watt, or about 10 percent of the total cost of an installation. To deal with this expense, leading solar companies are developing new project management tools, crafting new sales strategies, and buying up lead generation companies. GTM Research’s Nicole Litvak sees customer acquisition as one of the most innovative areas of solar in the U.S.
25 percent
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 25 percent of residential and commercial rooftops in America are suitable for solar. This reality creates a big opportunity for crowdsourced and community solar projects, two models that has been steadily gaining traction in the U.S. This also shows that home builders need to be aware of the potential that the home owner may want solar and design the home and more specifically the roof, to allow for a future PV installation.

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