Solar energy has achieved a milestone after it emerged that for the first time, solar accounted for all new utility electricity capacity added to the grid in the US in March.
The landmark was revealed the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's March Energy Infrastructure Update — which focuses exclusively on larger facilities and does not include energy generated by net-metered installations.
It found that 44MW of PV capacity was installed last month following the start-up of seven new projects located in California, Nevada, New Jersey, Hawaii, Arizona, and North Carolina.
The report also reveals that solar had a strong presence in the first quarter of this year with 537MW of PV added to the grid in the US during the three-month period.
“This speaks to the extraordinary strides we have made in the past several years to bring down costs and ramp up deployment,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Since 2008, the amount of solar powering US homes, businesses and military bases has grown by more than 600 percent—from 1,100MW to more than 7,700MW today. As FERC’s report suggests, and many analysts predict, solar will grow to be our nation’s largest new source of energy over the next four years.”
FERC’s report also shows that solar represents one of the fastest growing energy sources in the US, driven partly by the falling cost of solar power systems. Indeed, SEIA reveals that the cost has dropped by nearly 40% over the past two years making solar much more affordable.
“In 2012, the U.S. brought more new solar capacity online than in the three prior years combined,” Resch added. “These new numbers from FERC support our forecast that solar will continue a pattern of growth in 2013, adding 5.2 GW of solar electric capacity. This sustained growth is enabling the solar industry to create thousands of good jobs and to provide clean, affordable energy for more families, businesses, utilities, and the military than ever before.”