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Top Solar Energy Facts and Statistics of 2023

Top Solar Energy Facts and Statistics of 2023

Solar power has grown at a fast pace in the U.S. in recent years. Nationwide solar capacity exceeded 135,700 megawatts (MW) as of late 2022, which is enough to power 24 million homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). 

Solar power has grown at a fast pace in the U.S. in recent years. Nationwide solar capacity exceeded 135,700 megawatts (MW) as of late 2022, which is enough to power 24 million homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

Solar panels are typically an attractive investment for homeowners who pay high electricity prices, have roofs with decent sun exposure, want to reduce their environmental impacts and want to pre-pay for a quarter-century of power. Top-tier solar panels now come with a manufacturer warranty of up to 25 years, and the best solar installation companies will also offer a workmanship warranty so you can maximize production over time.

There are some common misconceptions about solar power, but panels can yield excellent results when used in the right applications. In this article, we at the Guides Home Team will explain a few of the top facts and statistics you should know about solar power in 2023.

Solar Energy Efficiency

90%–97% of solar panel materials can be recycled and reused for other purposes when they break down

Solar panels are made of large amounts of aluminum, copper and glass. These materials can be recycled to manufacture many other products, including new solar panels. The SEIA started the National PV Recycling Program in 2016, which includes a directory of solar panel recyclers throughout the U.S.

Solar panels can generate electricity for decades without producing carbon emissions. Once a solar panel reaches the end of its service life, it can be recycled thanks to its modular design. By comparison, conventional power plants fired by fossil fuels produce significant emissions during their lifespan and cannot be dismantled as easily as a solar array.

Many early models of solar panels from the 1980s are still in use today

Solar panels have no moving parts, which means they are not at risk of much mechanical wear. This results in a long service life, and the top solar brands now offer warranties of over 20 years to help you maintain your panels over time. According to Solstice.com, there are 40-year-old solar panels that are still operational with 80% or more efficiency.

The first photovoltaic (PV) modules made decades ago were already quite durable, and solar brands have improved those designs and manufacturing processes over time. When using modern solar panels, you can expect even greater efficiency and durability.


Solar Energy Jobs

Solar jobs in the U.S. have increased 167% over the last decade

The U.S. solar industry has created thousands of jobs in areas like manufacturing, installation and sales. There are more than 255,000 workers in the U.S. solar industry, according to the 12th annual National Solar Jobs Census. The growth rate of solar jobs is also five times faster than the overall job growth rate in the U.S.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists “solar photovoltaic installer” among the projected fastest-growing occupations between 2021 and 2031, with an expected growth rate of 27%.

California is responsible for nearly 40% of solar capacity in the U.S.

California is one of the sunniest states, as you can see on the World Bank Global Solar Atlas. The state also has expensive electricity, surpassing the national average price by 63.5%, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Combined, these two factors create a major incentive to use solar panels in California homes and businesses.

Unsurprisingly, of our March 2023 survey of homeowners with solar, more respondents lived in California than any other state, representing 123 out of the 1,000 people polled.

The Golden State also offers many incentive programs and financing options for home solar systems, making it easier to purchase panels. These programs are also offered by governments and utility companies in other states.

According to SolarStates.org, California’s solar companies employ more than 75,000 workers, which represents nearly 30% of the industry’s nationwide workforce.

Aerial view of middle class residential villas with solar panel on the roof, San Diego County, California, USA.

Solar Energy as a Solution

22,000 square miles of solar panels could provide enough energy to power the entire U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 22,000-square-mile area (roughly the size of Lake Michigan) of solar panels could generate enough electricity for the entire country.

In practice, distributed solar generation or rooftop solar makes more sense than large concentrated arrays, as less electricity is lost through transmission and distribution lines. The EIA forecasts that U.S. homes could reach a total energy consumption of 2,000 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) by 2050, and solar power can help cover this growing demand.

U.S. solar capacity has more than tripled over the last six years

The SEIA publishes a quarterly Solar Market Insight Report that tracks U.S. solar installations. Growth has been remarkable during the last six years: the U.S. increased its solar capacity from slightly over 40,000 MW in late 2016 to more than 135,000 MW by the end of 2022.

Community solar power is a small but promising market, through which residential users and small businesses use a shared solar array to save on power bills. The U.S. increased its community solar capacity from 300 MW in 2016 to more than 1,387 MW in 2019, according to a study by Yale Environment 360.

community solar farm

Solar Energy in the Future

More than 1 in 7 U.S. homeowners will have solar panels on their roof by 2030

Residential solar installations grew exponentially in recent years, and SEIA quarterly reports reflect this. Between June and September 2022, for the first time on record, the U.S. installed over 1,500 MW of capacity through home solar systems during a single quarter. According to SEIA forecasts, home solar power will grow by around 6,000 to 7,000 MW per year between 2023 and 2027.

With favorable sunshine conditions, a 5-kilowatt (kW) home solar system can generate over 7,500 kWh per year. If you consider an electricity price of 20 cents per kWh, that’s equivalent to more than $1,500 in power bill savings in one year.

Solar photovoltaic panels on a house roof. Solar photovoltaic panels on a house roof for providing sustainable alternative energy from natural resources

55% of Americans say that they would be willing to purchase solar panels if they could recover the investment in five years

According to a survey by CBS News, 52% to 57% of Americans would install solar panels if companies offered a payback period of five years or less. This is already possible in states with expensive electricity rates, especially if those states also have abundant sunshine and government incentives like in California.

Under less favorable conditions, the payback period for a home solar system may increase to around eight to 10 years. However, high-quality solar panels have a lifespan of over 25 years, which is much longer than the typical payback period.

Homeowners across the U.S. with access to low-interest loans can go solar for little to no upfront cost and use energy bill savings to cover their monthly loan payments.

66% of respondents in our March 2023 solar survey purchased a solar battery with their solar installation, and the industry expects solar batteries to become financially viable soon.

Solar battery storage is an important component of making the transition to 100% renewable energy.

In our March 2023 online survey of 1,000 homeowners who had gone solar, 66% of respondents said they had paired an energy storage system with their solar panels.

We spoke with Brett Adams, a senior solar consultant at 8MSolar, who explained his projections for solar accessories in the coming months: “Solar batteries are still relatively expensive, but they are growing in popularity and we expect their price to drop by the end of this year [2023] and especially heading into next year and beyond. We expect nearly all solar panel systems being installed to have [battery storage] attached to them over the next two to five years as prices decrease and technology improves.”


The Bottom Line

Solar power has become the fastest-growing electricity source in the U.S., representing 54% of generation projects planned for 2023. The global outlook for solar power is also promising: the International Energy Agency forecasts that worldwide solar generation could surpass natural gas by 2026 and coal by 2027.

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