In the past few years alone, the solar industry has gone from a clean energy source that required subsidies just to stay afloat to a full-fledged economic force. Solar energy is now passing grid parity in Europe, the southwestern U.S., South America, South Africa, and many other parts of the world. As costs fall, even more locations will find solar power to be economical, opening up a global electricity market worth over $1 trillion annually.
Here are just a few amazing statistics that show just how far solar energy has come and how big an opportunity it is for investors.
A global look at solar
To start, let’s put the global solar industry in some perspective.
- 37 GW: The number that global solar installations hit in 2013, according to the most recent data from Solarbuzz. That’s enough to power over 6 million homes.
- 50 GW: How big the solar market is projected to be in 2014, 35% higher than last year.
- 12 GW: The amount of solar installed in China last year, followed by 9.5 GW in Japan, 4.4 GW in the U.S., and 3.3 GW in Germany. . . .
A look at U.S. solar
The U.S. solar market has gone through many changes over the past decade and has been a political punching bag for years. But the industry now is at a sustainable cost structure, and even the pending reduction of the investment tax credit can’t stop solar growth. Here’s how far it’s come in just a few years. (Note: Most of the following data is from the GTM Research/SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insights Report.)
- 29%: The percentage of new electric capacity that installed solar accounted for in the U.S. in 2013, up from 10% a year before.
- 41%: The growth in U.S. solar installations in 2013 to 4.75 GW.
- 800,000: The number of homes that can be powered with the solar power installed in 2013 alone. . . .