Solar panel installations last year rose by 76 percent in the United States compared with 2011, and the cost of the associated equipment continued to drop, according to an annual report by a solar trade group.
The panels installed last year are capable of generating 3,313 megawatts of peak electricity, according to the report from the Solar Energy Industries Association. That electricity is about the same amount produced by a medium-sized coal plant and is enough to supply 400,000 U.S. homes.
Abundant financing programs and a 27 percent drop last year in the average cost of solar panel systems helped spur the growth.
The solar industry expects installations will continue rising in 2013, but at a slower pace. SEIA and GTM Research predict installations will rise 29 percent to 4,300 MW this year.
Solar energy accounts for 0.1 percent of the nation's total electric power generation, according to the Energy Department (Jonathan Fahey, AP/Albany Times Union, March 14)