11 Important Solar Power Statistics You Didn't Know

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Solar power is an energy source that has been around for quite some time. It’s only recently, however, that people have begun to truly understand the potential of this energy source and how it can help the world transition away from fossil fuels.

In this article, with the help of charts and key statistical data, we reveal the latest solar power statistics that demonstrate how the industry has grown so far, and the outlook and potential for the future.

We will examine several key areas including output, installations, costs, and employment in the sector.

Latest US Solar Power Statistics 2022

Which Countries Produce the Most Solar Energy?

Italy (9.66%), Chile (9.47%), and Spain (7.87%) are the countries that produce the highest percentage of their electricity from solar. The UK and India are next, both producing around 4.37%.

All of these countries are above the world average of 3.27%.

Italy has been the highest producer of solar power in terms of percentage since 2011, but Chile and Spain are showing the sharpest increases over recent years.

top countries for solar generation worldwide

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How Much Solar Energy is Generated in the US?

The amount of solar energy is increasing as more and more people see its benefits as an alternative source of energy.

In 2010 the US produced a total of just 1.21 terawatt-hours (TWh). By 2015 this had grown to 39.02 TWh and in 2020 the total had reached more than 130 TWh.

solar energy statistics - annual net generation chart

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How Does Solar Compare to Other Renewable Energy Sources?

Solar power is a rapidly expanding source of energy, but it still lags behind wind and hydroelectric in terms of net electricity generation in the United States.

In 2020, wind was the leading renewable energy source, generating 2964.731 trillion BTU (British thermal units). Hydro generated 2502.708, and solar 1.211452.

renewable energy production comparison chart
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What Percentage of US Electricity Comes From Solar?

In the United States, 3.27% of our electricity came from solar power in 2020, which is exactly in line with the global average. This compares with 0.7% in Canada.

Solar provided 0.95% of electricity in the US in 2015, and just 0.03% in 2010. So although solar still only provides a small fraction of our electricity, the trend shows that its usage is growing strongly year on year, and this is expected to continue over the next decades as we seek to end our reliance on fossil fuels.

percentage share of electricity from solar power - chart

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How Fast Is The US Solar Market Growing?

The solar market in the United States saw unprecedented growth in 2020, with 19.2 GWdc of solar capacity installed - a 43% increase over 2019.

Of this, 3,194 MWdc (MegaWatts defined conditions) was Residential PV installations (11% increase from 2019).

Solar accounted for 43% of all new electricity-generating capacity added in the US last year, making it the top technology for the second year in a row.

This growth is only set to continue, as solar becomes more and more cost-effective compared to other forms of energy generation.

Is Solar Energy Getting Cheaper to Produce?

The price of photovoltaic (PV) modules is a major factor in the cost of solar power. These are generally measured in cost per kWh (kilowatt hour). While solar energy has traditionally been expensive, prices are falling, and are now only around a third of what they were in 2010.

Those 2010 costs were estimated at $0.201 per kWh, and this had dropped to $0.067 per kWh by 2019.

Recurring expenses include tracking systems to follow the sun, anti-reflective coating on panels, and electrical components to tie together PV arrays. Despite these costs, solar power can certainly be worth it as a medium to long-term domestic and industrial investment.

Cost of PV solar by kWh annual chart

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How Many American Homes Have Solar Panels Installed?

The solar industry is booming in the US, with one out of every 600 homeowners installing solar systems each quarter. By 2021, the solar industry had surpassed 3 million installations, most of which are residential.

Wood Mackenzie estimates that 4.7% of viable owner-occupied homes in the US had a residential solar system by the end of the year. This is an impressive statistic, and it's clear that solar power is becoming an increasingly popular choice for homeowners across the country.

Forecasts suggest that the number of American homes using solar power is expected to more than triple by the year 2030.

Which US States Generate the Most Solar Energy?

California is the state that produces the most solar energy in the US, followed by Texas and Florida.

California has lead the way in the US solar market for several years, but rapid growth in both Florida and Texas has seen the gap narrow recently.

Arizona, Indiana, and Nevada are the next three states on the list.

How Many People Work in the Solar Energy Sector?

Solar energy is becoming more and more popular in the United States, with an increasing number of jobs being related to it. In 2020, there were 231,474 solar energy jobs in the United States.

The majority of those jobs were in installation and project development. However, solar employment dropped by 6.7 percent that year (due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic).

10.3% of workers in the United States solar industry are unionized, which is higher than the national average of 7.4%. This is likely due to the fact that solar installation is a skilled trade that requires training and certification.

Solar industry workers enjoy similar or higher wages than workers in similar jobs in other industries.

What are the Solar Energy Jobs?

Most jobs in the solar energy sector are related to installation and construction, to satisfy the rising industrial and consumer demand for new solar PV installations as detailed in the statistics above.

The employment breakdown is as follows.

  • Installation & Construction - 67%
  • Manufacturing - 14%
  • Sales & Distribuition - 11%
  • Operations & Maintenence - 4%
  • Other - 4%

Installation jobs dropped by 4.2% to 154,610 during the COVID pandemic, but are expected to recover and continue to grow over the next few years.

Which Utility Companies are Adding the Most Solar?

The top two solar PV contractors in the United States in 2020 were AES Clean Energy and Silicon Ranch. They installed a combined total of 831.50 megawatts of capacity between them.

This number represents only the utility market. In 2020 there were over 610,000 installations in the smaller commercial and residential markets combined.

The Final Word

Solar power is becoming an increasingly popular option for home and business owners due to its many benefits. With solar panels, you can reduce your energy costs, help the environment, and even make money by selling excess power back to the grid.

In this article, we’ve listed some interesting solar power statistics that will give you a better idea of just how popular this renewable energy source is becoming. Keep in mind that as solar technology continues to improve and prices drop, these numbers are only going to continue to grow.

Are you considering making the switch to solar? If so, be sure to consult with a qualified installer who can help you choose the right system for your needs.

References

IRENA | Energy.Gov | CBS News | EIA | Our World In Data | SEIA | Solar Power World | SEIA | IEA-PVPS | Lazard

Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.
Arabella Ruiz
Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.

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