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5 Reasons Solar Won in 2013

Jan 14, 2014

Solar made a serious comeback in 2013 after two difficult years that saw slowed growth. Photovoltaic (PV) installations exceeded wind for the first time, and Bloomberg estimated that 36.7 gigawatts of solar were added globally last year.  

Here are five reasons 2013 was solar’s year:

1. Solar closing in on parity with fossil fuels

Equipment prices have fallen dramatically, and the price of solar has begun to fall in line with conventional generation methods. Solar prices have already reached parity in California and Hawaii. Brazil’s energy department announced that by July 2012, residential rooftop solar would be cheaper than electricity from the grid.  Analysts at Deutsche Bank have predicted that  Australia, India, Italy and Japan are also closing in on parity. Solar’s cost continues to fall and, as fossil fuels to climb, PV installations numbers will continue to rise.

2. Germany’s renewable energy peaked at 59% of total capacity

On Oct. 3, wind and solar peaked at 59.1 per cent of Germany’s power generation. As more business and individuals installed PV this year, utilities felt threatened and warned that grids may not able to handle the excess power without damaging the system. But Germany proved it is possible for renewables to be a primary power source, with conventional sources supplying the remainder.  

Image: In Germany, private citizens, business and farmers own almost 80 per cent of the solar power sources. Photo credit rolfdisch.de

3. Canadian solar stock the second best performer on NASDAQ

The second best performing stock on the Nasdaq stock market in 2013 was a solar company.   Canadian Solar Inc., based in Guelph, Ontario, saw its stock rise 687% as it moved from selling solar panels to developing solar farms. Incentives made its 327 megawatts (MW) of projects in Canada the most lucrative part of its portfolio, but it is also developing 278 MW of capacity in Japan and another 40 in China. 

4. Ikea selling solar panels to consumers

Solar panels truly went mainstream this year when Swedish furniture giant rolled them out to its UK customers. The system costs just over $9,200 and generates 3.3 kW of capacity. With government subsidies in the form of feed-in tariffs and reduced electricity bills, the system will pay for itself in seven years. 

5. Wal-mart is in the solar game, big time

Wal-Mart generated more solar power than 38 states. When this retail giant enters a new business, costs come down across the supply chain, and that’s great news for everyone else. By placing solar panels on the roofs of its stores, Wal-mart is able to generate almost 90 MW, almost double what Costco, the next largest retail PV producer generates.


Image: Solar panels on the roof of this Wal-Mart generate can provide up to 30 percent of the store's annual energy requirements. Photo credit: Wal-Mart/flickr