Solar power, only a minuscule part of the energy mix in the
is getting a boost from cheaper panels, growing acceptance by large companies
and chances for homeowners to rent solar systems. United States
Analysts expect a phenomenal growth for renewable solar power over the next two decades, after huge gains in the past two years: 60 percent growth in 2012 and 30 percent on top of that this year.
Heavily reliant on oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear, the
only gets 12 percent of its power from renewables, of which solar is the
smallest part, less than one percent. United States
But the solar sector is expanding faster than any.
The US Energy Information Administration predicts that photovoltaics -- the semiconductor technology that converts sunlight into electricity -- will grow 11.6 percent a year through 2040.
By comparison, wind power is expected to grow at two percent a year and geothermal power at four percent a year.
They attribute solar power's fast growth to a decrease in the price of photovoltaic panels in a generously oversupplied market, making the energy source more competitive with other types of renewable energy.
Additionally, the possibility for homeowners to simply rent panels rather than purchasing them has helped their popularity.
Around 55 percent of US demand for solar panels currently comes from power generating companies.
Another 30 percent comes from businesses that have large buildings and massive rooftops where installing solar systems for their own power makes sense.
This includes companies like retail giant Walmart, and Google, which puts the panels on top of its huge data centers. The rest of demand comes from the residential sector. Experts estimate that solar's growth could drive renewables to 20 percent of the entire energy market by 2030-2035.