Solar energy facts and solar energy stats are an important part of understanding your personal solar needs as well as the industry overall.
We wanted to create a useful, quick-check, bullet-style list that provides you with as many of these as we can, with quick links to as many resources as we can find.
General Solar Energy Facts and Information
1. Most solar panels are built to last between 20 and 25 years. (source)
2. Colored solar cells are being created in Jerusalem. These cells require less direct sunlight, cost about half what it does to make standard form solar cells, and use less silicon for more environmentally solar energy production. (source)
3. The largest solar farm in the world is the Tengger Desert Solar Park, in China. This solar farm has a 1447 megawatt array.
4. Some experts believe we can fully wean ourselves from fossil-fuel generated electrical production. (source)
5. Solar energy refers to the use of solar radiation collected by photovoltaic cells and converted into viable electricity usable for powering AC electrical devices.
6. Solar farms are typically at least 1 megawatt, large enough to supply 200+ households with electricity.
USA Solar Energy Facts and Stats on Usage in 2018 and 2019
7. 30-gigawatts of solar electric capacity is capable of powering 5.7 million average American homes. (source)
8. 2018 found the U.S. solar industry to have installed double-digit gigawatts of PV capacity for the third year in a row. (source)
9. 10.6 gigawatts of solar energy came online in 2018. (source)
10. 2018 had a decrease of 2% of solar installations from the previous year, but SEIA expects growth to continue in 2019 and 2020 across all market segments. (source)
11. According to SEIA, solar energy accounted for 29% of new electric generating capacity in 2018, second to natural gas. In 2019 Q1, solar accounted for over 50% of all new electric capacity. (source)
12. 2018 found solar to be in its 6th straight year in the #1 or #2 position for energy generation capacity. (source)
13. The residential solar energy market grew by 7% from 2017 to 2018. (source)
14. 314,600 American homes installed new solar systems in 2018. (source)
15. The solar industry added 4.2 gigawatts of new electricity generation capacity in the last quarter of 2018. This was the second-largest quarter in the history of the United States for the solar industry. (source)
16. The final quarter of 2018 saw a 139% increased from the third quarter of the same year and a 4% increase from the fourth quarter of 2017. (source)
17. If PV – photovoltaic – panels covered only 0.6% of the nation’s land area, it would be enough to supply electricity to the entire United States. (source)
18. Seven Southwestern states have the land area and technical potential to site enough CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) to supply four times more electricity than the current demand for the United States. (source)
19. Cumulative operating solar capacity is at 62.4 gigawatts, as of March 13, 2019. (source)
20. 62.4-gigawatts is about 75 times more solar energy capacity installed than there was by the end of 2008. (source)
21. Solar energy represents 2.4% of the overall US electricity generation, as of 2018. (source)
22. In 2017 alone, the total U.S. energy-from-the-grid consumption declined by 0.2%. (source)
Geographical and Climate Stats for Solar Energy
23. The best states for solar energy production include Arizona, California, and Colorado, based on the number of clear days per year. (source)
24. The worst states for solar energy production include Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia based on the fact that they have fewer than 60 clear sky days annually. (source)
25. Daylight is required for solar panels to capture and convert solar energy, not direct sunlight.
26. Solar panels need at least 4 hours of peak sunlight for energy production. (source)
27. Solar panels cannot produce electricity if obstructions place them in shade.
Environmental Information on Solar Energy
28. Producing solar panels requires the mining and processing of silicon, cadmium, aluminum, lithium, nickel, and copper, among others. (source)
29. The carbon intensity of the U.S. power sector declined another 3.1% in 2018. (source)
30. Approximately 5,391 million metric tons of CO2 is emitted by the U.S. alone each year. A little under one ton per kilowatt of CO2 is saved by using solar energy. A 3-kilowatt system would save the environment approximately 2.5 tons of greenhouse gas or more. (source)
31. Five times more copper is used in solar energy equipment manufacturing than in standard electrical equipment. (source)
Commercial Statistics and Facts in the United States
32. Non-residential PV saw an annual decline of 8%. This is mainly due to various policy shifts for states like Massachusetts and California. (source)
33. Utility solar installed 6.2-gigawatts in 2018, which accounts for 58% of the total capacity additions in the United States. (source)
34. Wal-Mart is one of the big businesses that uses solar power to power its stores and offices. In 2016, they were the largest commercial user of solar electricity in the United States. (source)
Financial Facts for Solar Energy in the United States
35. The costs for electricity have, on average, risen 2.2% annually since 2008. (source)
36. Since 2010, the average cost of solar panels has dropped by more than 60%. (source)
37. The cost of solar electric systems has dropped from 2010 by about 50%. (source)
38. Leasing solar panels for your home will cost between $50 and $250 per month, based upon the size of the system and the company who holds the lease. (source)
39. Solar loans may be available from credit unions, solar panel manufacturers, national lending institutions, public-private partnerships, utilities, and municipalities. (source)
40. Homes with solar panels installed – owned by the homeowner, not leased – sell for approximately 4.1% more than homes without alternative energy sources. (source)
41. Rates for solar leases increase an average of 3% per year. (source)
42. The average cost of installing a solar panel system is $8-$9 per watt. This averages out to $15,000-$20,000 to install a full system for the average home. (source)
43. It takes 867 kWh per month, or about 29 kWh per day, to run the average-sized American home. (source)
44. Selling solar energy back into the electrical power grid of public utilities is called net-metering. (source)
45. There is no precise estimate on how much Americans can average by net-metering, but many home producers have stated that they make around $3000 per year via a combination of REC sales and governmental clean energy incentives. (source)
46. “Soft costs” for solar installation – such as permits and customer acquisition – constitute up to 66% of the costs of residential solar energy systems. (source)
47. The average household in America uses 10,400 kilowatt-hours per year. The average price across the board per kilowatt hour is $0.1287. This means the typical American family spends $1335 annually on electricity.
48. The Tesla Solar Roof, a premium solar energy producing system, typically costs about $22 per square foot. This is based on a roof made of 35% solar tiles. (source)
Solar Industry and Solar Job Statistics and Facts
49. Solar energy-related jobs have increased by more than 123% since November 2010. (source)
50. According to the National Solar Jobs’ census, the solar industry of the United States employs 242,000 solar workers, as of 2018. (source)
51. There was an 8,000 position decline from 2017 to 2018 in solar worker jobs, or 3.2%. (source)
52. Despite the losses, 29 states saw an increase in solar job positions in 2018, including Florida, Illinois, Texas, New York, Ohio, and Washington.
53. States which had significant changes to their incentives policies saw the greatest reduction of solar worker jobs in 2018. Some of the states with the largest job declines include California, Massachusetts, Arizona, North Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, and Hawaii.
54. Approximately 155,000 solar jobs are in the installation and project development sector of the industry. This is about 2/3 of the jobs in the solar energy industry in the United States. (source)
55. 56% of these solar jobs are focused on residential installation. Just under 30% is for non-residential solar energy. 14% is for the utility-scale market.
56. According to Glassdoor, solar installer salaries range from $33,000 at the low end to $74,000 at the high end. The average reported salary is $54,000 per year. (source)
57. Clean energy and energy efficiency support now supports over 3 million American jobs. (source)
Solar Energy Trends and Predictions in the USA and the World
58. Forecasts by Wood Mackenzie expect 25% growth in solar installations in 2019 compared to 2018. (source)
59. 13 gigawatts of installations are expected in 2019. (source)
60. The solar energy market is expected to more than double by 2024, with 71 gigawatts of new capacity. (source)
61. U.S. solar installations are expected to reach 15.8 gigawatts annually in 2021, due to the expiration of the residential ITC – Investment Tax Credit. (source)
62. Solar industry employment is expecting a 7% increase in 2019. (source)
Worldwide Solar Energy Stats and Information
63. Germany is the country with the highest PV watt per capita, at 548 watt/person. (source)
64. Other than tiny Honduras at 14%, Germany leads all nations in solar share of total consumption, with solar making up 7.9% of the power they consume. (source)
65. China has the highest total solar capacity installed in the world, with over 175,000 Mega Watts (176 GW). (source)
66. China is also adding more solar than any other country in recent years, with capacity increasing by roughly 50,000 MW each of the last 2 years. (source)
67. By the end of 2017, the worldwide cumulative solar power capacity reached almost 398 GW and generated over 460 TWh, which is about 2% of the total global power output. (source)
68. The top solar countries around the world include India, China, Germany, South Africa, Chile, the United States, Austria, Italy, Japan, Spain, France, Belgium, Australia, and the Czech Republic. (source)
69. There are over 24 countries around that world that have a higher than 1-gigawatt cumulative solar capacity. (source)
70. In 2015, Sweden announced its plans to become the world’s first nation that’s completely independent of fossil fuel use. The Swedish government allocated an extra $546 million on renewable energy and climate change action for 2016. This change has primarily been done through solar energy, with an 800% increase in solar energy production. (source)
71. It would take 51.4 Billion 350W solar panels to power the world. This is equivalent to a roughly 115,000 square mile solar plant. (source)
72. It would take 10 Billion 350W solar panels to power the USA. This is equivalent to a roughly 22,000 square mile solar plant. (source)