Solar power is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source in the world. Photovoltaic (PV) technology harnesses sunlight to generate clean, cost-effective electricity that powers devices, homes, and businesses, and supplies electricity to the grid.
The global solar energy market is expected to exceed $180 billion by 2021. The market has been characterized by rapidly advancing technology, shrinking costs, and increasing demand across geographies. Since 2011, the average price of a completed PV system has dropped by roughly 30 percent due to innovations in material, manufacturing, and installation technology.
Average daily insolation in the United States ranges from 3.5 kWh/m2/day in the Northeast and upper Midwest to 8.5 kWh/m2/day in the Southwest.
Even in the Northeastern US, average daily insolation exceeds that of Germany, the world leader in overall installed PV capacity. It is estimated that the United States solar market will grow by 119 percent in 2016 to reach $75.2 billion.
The extension of the Solar Investment Tax Credit (a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties) at the end of 2015 has enhanced solar’s domestic growth by providing certainty to project developers and investors alike. Solar is at grid parity—as cheap as conventional electricity –in 34 states and growing. The US is poised to overtake Japan this year as the world’s second largest solar market behind China.