The solar industry is growing exponentially

For the past year, we have been gathering and analyzing millions of building permit records, records that contain all sorts of interesting information about the projects being carried out on the country’s housing stock.

These permits generally contain the name of the builder, the address of the job, a classification of the work performed, price information, a detailed description, and more. As such, the building permits represent a unique opportunity to analyze broader trends in the nation’s real estate markets and the economy at-large.

The main challenge associated with using building permits for market analysis is the degree of variance in the structure and types of information required by different permitting authorities. We’ve overcome that by focusing our analysis on keywords in the project description field, a field required by all permitting bodies.

Our analysis of 32,000 permits containing the term “solar’ in their project description, gathered and classified from 72 municipalities, shows that for the past 10 years the average annual growth rate for solar remodeling permits has averaged over 50%. Since 2008, that exponential curve has only begun to accelerate.
growth-rate
For the sake of comparison, we plotted solar projects against overall remodeling activity in the BuildZoom dataset.

solar-versus-all

The distribution of estimated prices from each permit for 2012-2013 shows that photovoltaic projects are also considerably more expensive than solar thermal projects.

pricing-solar

Over the past four years, the median price for residential photovoltaic installations has decreased while the median price for thermal solar projects has increased.

median-price-comparison

We then plotted the number of thermal solar projects versus photovoltaic projects, showing that overall growth in solar projects is being driven by new photovoltaic projects. The 4-year growth rate for photovoltaic projects is around 275%, while the four-year growth rate for solar thermal projects is a mere 1%.

solarversuspv

Top 10 most active states for solar projects over the past 10 years.

most-active-states

Contractors who have applied for the most permits over the last 10 years:

most-active

Fastest growing contractors (with a minimum of 80 projects in 2013)

fastest-growign

To gain a better understanding of what types of contractors were benefiting most from the rapid growth in solar, we created a histogram of license classification. Here are the top four broad classifications of license type by # of solar permits.

license-classification

8 Responses to “The solar industry is growing exponentially”

  1. Carmella July 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    A lot of homes and industries have been dependent
    on it as a source of ample electricity to power up lights, water
    heaters, boilers and other appliances and machineries.
    These guides have simplified these types of jobs so the average
    handyman can easily create their very own pv panel.
    A lot more consumers aim to create their own solar-powered home.

    Plus the electric bill savings and also the SREC program supply significant returns and also boost your home’s
    resale value. A grid-tied solar electric system also requires an array
    DC disconnect, which is essentially a switch that allows you to stop
    the flow of electricity from your solar panels. Some take a 6-months course and
    pass the State Contractor’s Board to become licensed solar energy contractors, for
    better opportunities for career advancement.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Red Faces of the Solar Skeptics | NEWS.GNOM.ES - March 10, 2014

    [...] over to become cheaper than electricity generated by new nuclear plants about four years ago.)An analysis of remodeling and construction permit data from 77 municipalities around the United States reveals that solar installations — primarily [...]

  2. The Red Faces of the Solar Skeptics | Solar Electric Installations - Good Energy Renewables - March 12, 2014

    [...] analysis of remodeling and construction permit data from 77 municipalities around the United States reveals that solar installations — primarily [...]

  3. From Roofs to Cubes, Harnessing the Power of the Sun | Thoughts on Real Estate | Coldwell Banker Blue Matter - March 17, 2014

    [...] with solar power. I was fascinated to find this list of top solar cities and graph showcasing the top 10 most active states for solar powered projects.  I also learned that Best Buy (in about 60 stores) has partnered with [...]

  4. Solar industry grows 45% in 2013 - BuildZoom - April 9, 2014

    [...] past December, we published an article examining traction within the solar industry.  Now that we are a quarter removed from 2013, we’ll take a look back and explain what we [...]

  5. Solar industry grows 45% in 2013 - BuildZoom - April 9, 2014

    [...] past December, we published an article explaining the overall growth we observed within the solar industry. A quarter removed from 2013, we’ll take a look back at how solar installation performed in [...]

  6. Solar Installation Industry Grows 45 Percent in 2013 | Green Earth Report ® - April 10, 2014

    [...] past December, we (BuildZoom) published an article explaining the overall growth we observed within the solar industry. A quarter removed from 2013, we’ll take a look back at how solar installation performed in [...]

  7. Blue Dolphin Bay | Solar Installation Industry Grows 45 Percent in 2013 - April 10, 2014

    [...] past December, we (BuildZoom) published an article explaining the overall growth we observed within the solar industry. A quarter removed from 2013, we’ll take a look back at how solar installation performed in [...]

Leave a Reply