We would like to take this opportunity to introduce our new intern! Kristina Horensky comes to us from Oberlin College where she is majoring in Environmental Studies and Law & Society. She’ll be helping us with many things around the office and it might just be time to clean those panels again… This was Kristina’s first assignment.
2013 was a successful year for solar. Massive, unprecedented increases in solar capacity and residential installations across the country and cost reductions in all the right places (I’m talking installation prices) made 2013 the solar industry’s time to shine. Before we delve into a new year of continued growth, it’s important to acknowledge the achievements the solar industry has made in the last 12 months because they’re definitely worthy of applause.
To start off, Greentech Media Research (GTM Research) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported that by the end of 2013 residential installation costs were down 9.7%, commercial costs down 6.1%, and utility costs were down 15%. This led to an overall cost reduction of 40% since 2011 in the price of solar PV systems, and a 60% reduction in solar panel costs. It’s easy to understand why even the White House couldn’t resist installing solar panels on the roof this year. Image Credit to Yann Brandt
What goes nicely with lower prices? More solar installations! The U.S. solar industry enjoyed its second largest quarter ever in Q3 of 2013 including the largest quarter ever for residential installations. PV installations reached a record high of 4.2 GW indicating market growth of about 15% from 2012. This puts America on track to install more solar capacity than the current world leader Germany! Solar has been making its way up the ranks and is now second only to natural gas in terms of new electricity capacity. In fact, GTM Research reports that every four minutes, a new solar project is installed.
To top it off, solar cell efficiency reached new heights when solar conversion efficiency was recorded as high as 44.7%. This was achieved by utilizing a multi-junction solar cell, consisting of several layers of different semiconductor materials, which collects a broader range of the light spectrum. As solar nears the 50% efficiency mark and reaches parity with coal prices, we expect 2013 trends to continue at a remarkably fast pace into 2014. Let’s cross our fingers for a 2014 filled with new technologies, a continuation of rising installations, falling prices, and more solar goodness.