With climate change being a big factor for many within the United States, it should come as no surprise to realize solar panel sales have hit an all-time high in 2016. This is big for the industry, and if it continues, the United States may one day end its reliance on fossil fuel energy.

According to a recent report from the GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association, around 14,762 megawatts of solar capacity was installed in homes and business within the year of 2016 alone. That is almost twice the amount installed in 2015, which leaves us to wonder if 2017 is on the verge of being another record year for solar.

Some good news for consumers

The average price for solar components has fallen by 20 percent during the 12 month period. The falling price is one of the main forces behind the increased adoption in 2016, boosting solar to becoming the largest source of new energy installation in the U.S. for the year.

“It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry,” according to Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country, and job numbers soared.”

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The report claims natural gas and wind energy follows behind. As for coal, well, it’s nowhere to be seen. However, with Donald Trump being the new President of the United States, the nation could witness the rise of coal once more. Coal investment has dwindled since 2014, but that doesn’t spell the end of the industry, not by a long shot.

The year 2017 and 2018 won’t match 2016’s success

We wondered if 2017 could eclipse 2016 in solar installations, but the official report states otherwise. As it stands, 2017 and 2018 might not match 2016’s number due to a number of large utility projects that came in the year. Apparently, the market should expect a huge change in 2020.

We’ve also come to understand that 18-gigawatt energy will be installed in the United States by the year 2022. This could ensure that over 24 states will have at least 1 gigawatt of solar power installed by that time.

With solar becoming the number one new energy source being installed in the United States, one can be certain that it’s going nowhere anytime soon, or ever for that matter. Still, with President Donald Trump planning to revitalize the coal industry, it may take some time for solar to experience its true potential.

China taking solar very seriously

At the end of the day, Mr. Trump may have no choice but to leave the coal industry behind because even China, the most polluted nation on planet Earth, is making waves in the solar energy industry. We expect China to slowly abandon coal as solar energy becomes viable and the components become cheaper to make.

If the U.S. decides to place solar energy on the back burner for too long, the country could allow China to become the leading nation in the industry before long. China is slowly giving up coal while the United States is moving to readopt it, so what are the odds?

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