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Solar Stats That Will Blow Your Mind

Travis Hoium
September 12, 2012

For those who follow the solar industry, sometimes it's important to take a step back and see where the industry stands and how it got where it is today. Below I've compiled some of the most compelling statistics in solar, from the growth of the industry in the U.S. to the cost of companies supplying solar to the market. Just take a look at how far the industry has come.

U.S. solar growth
The U.S. solar industry installed 742 MW of PV in the second quarter of 2012, up 45% sequentially and 116% annually. This is despite the expiration of the 1603 Treasury Grant Program, a policy that allowed solar installers to get a cash grant in lieu of a future tax credit; the industry has now installed 2.85 GW of solar.

The cost to install solar is dropping like a rock
Every quarter the solar industry takes another step toward grid parity in locations around the world, even passing it in some locations.

  • According to GTM Research, the cost to install a utility scale solar system has fallen 45.8% since the beginning of 2010 to $2.60 per watt.
  • Over the same time frame, residential solar installations have dropped 21.8% to $5.46 per watt.

I bet you didn't know
Corporate America has taken a surprisingly quick liking to solar power in recent years -- the companies installing solar might surprise you. The Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA, just released the top 20 corporate users and here are the top five:

  1. Walmart comes in first with 65 MW installed.
  2. Costco has installed 38.9 MW.
  3. Kohl's has 36.5 MW of capacity.
  4. IKEA has installed solar on 79% of its stores for a total of 21.5 MW of solar.
  5. Macy's rounds out the top five with 16.2 MW of installed solar.

For the complete report from SEIA, click here.

Random solar stats
Here are some solar stats you can throw around when debating with your friends:

  • $0 -- That's what it will cost you to install solar panels on your house through programs by Solar City, SunRun, SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWR  ) , and potentially others around the country.
  • 125,273 -- The number of solar projects installed in California, which total 1,312 MW of solar energy.
  • $0.87 -- Blended average module sale price per watt in Q2 2012, down 44% from a year ago.
  • $0.63 -- The cost per watt at First Solar's (Nasdaq: FSLR  ) best plant.
  • 0.135 euro -- Feed-in-tariff rate for a rooftop system in Germany, below the cost of residential electricity.
  • $32,453 -- The cost of the average residential solar system in the U.S. The average system was 5.9 kW, and estimates are