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U.S. Solar Gained 35% in Third Quarter Led by Big Plants

Solar Sales Moving From Sofa to Websites to Speed Deals
Prices for solar panels have plunged 39 percent in the past two years. Photographer: Laura Segall/Bloomberg

Developers installed 930 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity in the U.S. during the third quarter and are on pace to almost double that, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Total installed solar power grew 35 percent from a year earlier, the Washington-based trade group said today in a statement. Utility scale projects increased 74 percent to 539 megawatts and installation of residential systems reached 186 megawatts.

The trade group expects 1.83 gigawatts of capacity to be installed this quarter, putting the U.S. on pace to reach 4.27 gigawatts for the year, according to the report. That 27 percent rise means the U.S. will install more panels this year than Germany, the biggest solar market in terms of existing capacity, for the first time in more than 15 years. Demand in Europe has waned as governments curtail subsidies.

“Without a doubt, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the U.S. solar industry,” Rhone Resch, SEIA’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.

Almost 31,000 systems were installed at U.S. homes in the quarter, according to the report.

Residential growth is “remarkably consistent,” according to Shayle Kann, vice president of research in Boston at GTM, which wrote the report with SEIA.

“It’s grown between 4 and 20 percent on a quarterly basis in 14 of the last 15 quarters,” Kann said in an interview.

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