Less than 5 years ago, rolling eyes or possibly laughter would have followed anyone who would have said that the USA would install 1,855 megawatts of solar generation in 2012. But that's the amount installed in Uncle Sam's land during 2011, according to a report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=2006.
Other highlights of the report include:
1. On site solar installations led the way, with 800 megawatts built at commercial locations and 297 megawatts at homes. Assuming 5 kilowatts per home installed, approximately 59,400 homes installed solar last year.
2. Large, utility scale solar projects feeding power into the grid accounted for 758 megawatts of the solar build.
3. The US was the fourth largest solar market in the world, with more than $8 billion of revenue in 2011. Germany, Italy, and China were 1 through 3.
4. The US 2011 total of 1,855 megawatts more than doubled the 2010 installation amount. An incredible 766 megawatts was installed in the fourth quarter alone and that surpassed the prior quarterly record amount of 473 megawatts built in the third quarter.
5. For all projects through the entire year, the average installed solar cost in the US during 2011 was $4.08 per watt.
6. But the price declined through the year significantly. By the fourth quarter for large projects, the price fell to $3.20 per watt.
Last but not least, the report projects that 2,500 to 2,800 megawatts of solar capacity will be installed in the USA during 2012. If so, it is possible that new solar capacity will exceed new coal capacity built during 2012 in the USA. This blog will be tracking the 2012 new solar and coal capacity numbers.