While China and Japan might have installed more solar energy mega watts in 2013, the United States' 41% improvement is nothing to bat an eye at. Thanks to companies like SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) and First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), California, Arizona and New Jersey -- yes, New Jersey -- are leading the charge. 

Solar Energy Field

One big reason for this is that public awareness about solar power is spreading like rays of sunlight. In fact, you can now find a SolarCity representative in a growing number of Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Home Depot stores. Before too long, you will even be able to store energy generated during the day using lithium-ion batteries from Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA). For more information on the evolution of solar energy, check out the short clip below.

Solar power isn't OPEC's worst nightmare, but it should be

This segment is from Thursday's edition of "Digging for Value," in which sector analysts Joel South and Taylor Muckerman discuss energy and materials news with host Alison Southwick. The twice-weekly show can be viewed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It can also be found on Twitter, along with our extended coverage of the energy & materials sectors @TMFEnergy.

Joel South has no position in any stocks mentioned. Taylor Muckerman owns shares of SolarCity. The Motley Fool recommends SolarCity and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of SolarCity and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.