Solar Panel Installations Up 76% in 2012
Solar panel installations rose 76 percent last year, according to a release by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) which is the national trade association for the industry. Overall, installed solar capacity was 3,313 megawatts - a record for the industry.
The was an especially noteworthy increase as the industry only had 1,887 megawatts of installed peak capacity in 2011. To put these figures into perspective, 3,313 megawatts is roughly the size of a large coal plant that could provide power for approximately 400,000 people.
Federal and state financial incentives and marked decreases in the price of solar panels are the suspected reasons behind the surge in installations, according to media reports. The average costs for solar panels dropped by 27 percent last year and many companies rushed to take advantage of tax incentives that were originally set to expire at the end of 2012 but were eventually extended by Congress. The Department of Energy estimates that solar provides about 0.1 percent of the electrify in the country, but continues to expect robust industry growth into 2013.
According to the report issued by the SEIA, the states with the largest solar installations in 2012 were:
- California, 1033 megawatts;
- Arizona, 710 megawatts; and
- New Jersey, 415 megawatts