California solar power capacity hits 10 GW mark

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California has become the first state in the nation to top 10,000 MW of installed solar power capacity, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, which was just released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Today, California has more solar assets than most nations, including the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia and Belgium.

(click here to read about the top 10 most solar-powered states)

California made history in the first quarter of this year by installing 718 MW of solar energy, raising the state’s total capacity to 10,649 MW — enough to power nearly 2.6 million homes. The report went on to point out that California had big increases in Q1 across all solar power sectors.

Of the new capacity added, 231 MW were residential, 88 MW were commercial and 399 MW were utility scale. Together, these installations represented a $1.7 billion investment across the state in the first quarter alone.

In the first quarter of this year, California benefitted from the completion of the massive Desert Sunlight project, developed by First Solar and located in the Mojave Desert. Desert Sunlight has the capacity to generate 550 MW of electricity, which is enough to power 160,000 California homes.

The residential market also continued to flourish in Q1, with installed system prices dropping 4 percent year-over-year — and down nearly 50 percent since 2010. The upswing in residential installations is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, especially in light of a recent report by the California Energy Commission, which shows that more than a quarter of all new homes being built in Southern California are being constructed with solar energy systems. Presently, there are 2,226 solar companies at work throughout the state, employing 54,700 Californians.

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