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Solar generation reaches new heights

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. solar market hit a “major milestone” in the second quarter of 2014, with more than half a million homes and businesses now generating solar energy, according to a new U.S. Solar Market Insight report from the national Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.

Homes, businesses and utilities installed 1.13 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics nationwide from April to June, up 21 percent from the second quarter of 2013, according to the report, released on Friday.

SOLAR 09-08-14As of June, total installed solar capacity in the U.S. grew to nearly 16 gigawatts, or enough generation to power more than 3.2 million homes.

More than half of the industry’s second-quarter growth came from utilities, which are rapidly deploying large-scale solar installations around the country. Utility-scale solar has more than quadrupled in the last two years, from 1.784 gigawatts of installed capacity in June 2012 to 7.308 gigawatts today.

The association and GTM Research now project 6.5 gigawatts of photovoltaics will be installed by year-end, up 36 percent from 2013.

“Solar continues to be a primary source of new electric generation capacity in the U.S.,” said GTM Research Senior Vice President Shayle Kann. “With new sources of capital being unlocked, design and engineering innovations, reducing system prices, and sales channels rapidly diversifying, the solar market is quickly gaining steam to drive significant growth for the next few years.”

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the industry now employs about 143,000 people and pumps nearly $15 billion annually into the economy.

“Solar continues to soar, providing more and more homes, businesses, schools and government entities across the U.S. with clean, reliable and affordable electricity,” Resch said.

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