The U.S. experienced the second highest quarter of growth for solar panel installations and more growth is expected.
Solar energy is becoming more popular as compared to previous years; at least that is what a recent report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) indicates. The first quarter of 2012 saw the second highest growth for solar panel installations in the U.S. and there is more growth expected in the coming months.
This record setting growth for solar energy brought an 85 percent increase in total solar installations across the U.S., making us the fourth largest solar market worldwide. Lower prices are helping make solar energy more economical, spurring the 506 megawatts of new energy production seen in the first quarter. Based on this trend, it is possible that the U.S. could reach 3,300 megawatts of total solar energy output by the end of this year, nearly 11 percent of the global market.
If you were asked where the most solar panel installations were in the U.S., you would probably think about California or perhaps Arizona and New Mexico where there is plenty of sun. Honestly, I thought the same thing until the SEIA study pointed me in the proper direction. In fact, New Jersey tops the list, taking the top spot from California. That’s right, during the first 3 months of this year New Jersey produced over 17 percent more solar energy than California. To understand the amazing growth New Jersey saw we must look at 2011. Last year California produced 229 more megawatts from solar energy than New Jersey. However, if the current trend continues New Jersey could out produce California by over 100 megawatts in 2012, a tremendous growth in clean energy.
As products become more affordable a greater number of people will begin to enter the market. We saw this with many new technologies such as microwave ovens, which were over $1,000 initially and now are in nearly every home for as little as $35. With solar installation prices dropping 17.2 percent year over year this allowed for greater adoption in markets such as New Jersey. The price drops are directly related to a flooded market from Chinese producers, which lead to a double edged sword.
The oversupply in the market will likely be short lived with import tariff imposed on Chinese solar products and government incentives expiring. The greater than anticipated growth in 2012 will likely be followed with a slump in 2013. The SEIA report does indicate that if this occurs, it will be a temporary slump, regaining strength by 2015 as the market corrects itself.
In our previous articles we discussed how energy independence is critical to our national security. Increased solar energy production will reduce our demand for foreign fossil fuels, while sustaining our own energy needs, creating green jobs and removing our interests from very volatile regions. Consider your options for your home or office, perhaps now is the time to help reduce your carbon footprint and make solar your renewable choice.