For the first time, solar energy accounted for all new utility electricity generation capacity added to the U.S. grid last month, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association's (SEIA) analysis of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) March 2013 Energy Infrastructure Update.
More than 44 MW of solar electric capacity was brought online from seven projects in California, Nevada, New Jersey, Hawaii, Arizona and North Carolina. All other energy sources combined added no new generation.
Solar also had a strong showing in FERC's quarterly generation numbers, accounting for about 30% of all utility-scale new capacity, SEIA adds. The report focuses exclusively on larger facilities and does not include energy generated by net-metered installations. Net-metered systems account for more than half of all U.S. solar electric capacity.
‘This speaks to the extraordinary strides we have made in the past several years to bring down costs and ramp up deployment,’ says Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. ‘Since 2008, the amount of solar powering U.S. homes, businesses and military bases has grown by more than 600 percent – from 1,100 MW to more than 7,700 MW today.Â
‘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,’ Resch adds. SEIA forecasts that solar will continue its pattern of growth this year, adding 5.2 GW of new solar electric capacity.