Other Than Andrenaline-Fueled Pilots, Who Else Uses Solar Power?

Mar 09, 2015 at 12:59 PM ET

As the sun-fueled Solar Impulse 2 sets off on its 21,747-mile journey around the world, solar power usage in the U.S. continues to grow. But it remains a drop in the bucket next to oil and natural gas. Below are a handful of facts and numbers that provide a snapshot of the solar industry today.

150 gigawatts

The amount of total solar-power capacity in the world — that’s more than the total potential output of all energy forms in Canada.

41 percent

The percentage of Americans who live within 20 miles of a solar panel installation, a total of 129 million people.

One Third

China’s share of global solar installations in 2013. China had the greatest new investment in solar power of any country when it added 12.9 gigawatts of capacity.

3.5 million

The number of American homes that could be solar powered based on our capacity.

642.1 megawatts

The capacity of solar installations in California — the Golden State has more than triple the solar capacity of any other state.


The number of solar workers in the United States.


The number of U.S. homes and businesses that have gone solar.

80 cents

The price per watt of solar cells, down from $4.00 per watt in 2008.

.3 Percent

The percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. created by solar power. Petroleum and natural gas account for 36 percent and 27.3 percent, respectively. Solar power is here, but it has a lot of room to grow.

Solar Impulse Plane Begins Epic Global Flight (BBC)

Solar Industry Data (Solar Energy Institutes Association)

Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy–2014 Edition (International Energy Agency)