Energy Acuity Blog

14 Illuminating Solar Industry Facts & Stats

Posted by Jesse Goertel on April 12, 2017 at 8:20 PM

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At a crisp 5,778 degrees Kelvin, the photosphere of the sun wouldn’t be a pleasant place for humans to vacation. But despite its unbelievable heat, the sun—and the solar energy it provides—is really pretty cool. Take a look at this compilation of solar energy facts and information to see just how powerful solar energy is, and how individuals, businesses, and utilities can harness its power to improve quality of life for people across the planet. 

Solar Industry Facts & Figures

1. The amount of solar energy absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules each year. This amount of energy is 8,000 times the total energy consumption of the entire world.

Source: Just Energy Solar

2. In 2016, the U.S. solar industry added a record 14.8 GW of capacity. This nearly doubles the capacity installed in 2015. Growth was primarily driven by the utility PV segment, which installed more in 2016 than the entire market in 2015.Current trends show that this number is expected to triple in size by 2022.

Source: Solar Energy Industries Association

3. Solar energy travels for 93 million miles from the sun to the earth in 8 minutes and 19 seconds. The amount of solar energy that hits the earth each hour is enough to provide the energy needs of earth’s entire population for a full year.

Source: Just Energy Solar

4. There are two types of solar energy technologies: photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP). “PV is utilized in panels, so when the sun shines onto a solar panel, photons from the sunlight are absorbed by the cells in the panel, which creates an electric field across the layers and causes electricity to flow.” CSP is typically used in large power plants—it’s not appropriate for residential use. “This technology uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat, which can then be used to produce electricity.”

Source: Energy.gov

5. The largest solar plant in the world is the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China. With around four million solar panels, this solar farm has a capacity of 850 MW—and at 10 square miles, it’s large enough to see from space!

Source: Inhabitat

6. China is the world leader in renewable energy. The United States comes in second and India in third.

Source: Just Energy Solar

7. The U.S. has 42.4 gigawatts (GW) of total installed solar capacity, which is enough to power 8.3 million homes.

Source: SEIA

8. Nearly 260,000 Americans work in solar—more than double the number in 2012—at more than 9,000 companies in every U.S. state. By 2021, that number is expected to increase to more than 360,000 workers.

Source: SEIA

9.  2016 saw the most new capacity added by the solar industry on record, surpassing 2015; the fourth quarter of 2016 was the busiest quarter on record in terms of added capacity.

Source: SEIA

10. The top five solar states for operating projects in 2016 were 1. California (3,033 MW), Nevada (776 MW), Georgia (740 MW), Utah (701 MW), and North Carolina (545 MW). You can find out more about the solar industry, including the top projects in each state, in our article, Top 5 Solar States For Operating Projects in 2016.

Source: Energy Acuity

11. Jobs in the solar industry have increased about 123% since November 2010, with nearly 209,000 solar workers in the United States.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

12. The largest photovoltaic solar power plants in the U.S. are located in California. The Solar Star PV power station produces 579 megawatts of electricity, while the Topaz Solar Farm and Desert Sunlight Solar Farm each produce 550 megawatts.

Source: Energy.gov

13. In 2016, the solar industry supported $154 billion in economic output in the U.S. The states with the most solar jobs were California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, and Florida.

Source: The Solar Foundation

14. The amount of solar installed at U.S. corporations and businesses is enough to offset 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Source: SEIA

Want to know more solar industry facts?

The Energy Acuity Renewables Database has tons of useful information on solar energy projects that are either currently operating or under construction to help you find projects before your competition. Check it out today!

Solar-Energy-Report

Topics: solar energy