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Although residential solar still faces headwinds in certain locales due to some states revisiting their net metering rules, experts generally agree solar will continue its current upward trajectory because it is now a well established renewable energy source and costs continue to fall. Data for 2023 support that assumption, with last year marking the first time since World War II that a renewable power source has made up more than half of the nation’s energy additions, Grist reports. Back in the 1940s it was hydropower; today solar leads.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced the 2023 numbers in a recent report with energy analyst Wood MacKenzie. The U.S. solar industry added a record-shattering 32.4 gigawatts (GW) of new electric generating capacity in 2023—a 37% increase from the previous record set in 2021 (23.6 GW). In 2023, solar accounted for 53% of all new electric generating capacity added to the grid. The No. 2 energy source: natural gas at 18%. 

SEIA called 2023 the best year for renewables since the Second World War. Texas and California led a solar surge driven mostly by utility-scale installations, which jumped 77 percent year-over-year to 22.5 gigawatts. The residential and commercial sectors also reached new milestones. Only the relatively nascent community solar market missed its previous mark, though not by much, said [Shawn] Rumery, [senior director of research at SEIA]. Overall he called it an “almost record-setting year across the industry.”

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