A new data release from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) suggests that all those rooftop solar panels do add up.
The report estimates that the aggregate generation capacity of installed residential solar panels in the US is now just over 1000 megawatts — or about 4 times the capacity of the average US coal power plant (228 megawatts).
The current impact of solar looks even more compelling when you add in solar power capacity from the country’s commercial, industrial, and utility-scale facilities — which collectively add 2,500 megawatts to the mix.
Energy from solar photovoltaics still only accounts for a tiny slice of the US energy pie, accounting for less than 1% of our total electricity generation. But solar’s growth trend appears to be gaining momentum: the average price of a solar panel has declined by 51% since early 2011; furthermore, GTM Research forecasts that by the end of the year, 3,200 new megawatts of solar panels will have been installed in the US during 2012 alone. That’s almost double the amount of total capacity that the country had in total at the start of year.
The states most actively leading the way on solar installations include California, Arizona, and New Jersey.
Check out the EIA’s new data release for more details on the growing role of solar power in the US.