Solar Energy Growth Builds Case for Solar Signage

Solar Energy


With the exponential growth of solar energy as a renewable power source the use of solar signage makes a great addition to an organization’s green plan. The high visibility of solar signage aligns your brand with environmental responsibility. This post focuses on the viability and growth of solar energy. The next post will examine exterior signage powered by solar energy.

Solar Energy Dwarfs All Other Sources

Solar energy continues to be the single largest energy source that is the most dependable, the most predictable and the most abundant. Solar energy dwarfs all other sources in comparison with both renewable and non-renewable sources (including total reserves of all the fossil fuels on earth).


Annual Global Energy Sources

(Terawatt Hours)


Terawatt Hours

Direct Solar Radiation




Ocean / Thermal




Tidal / Wave


1 terawatt hour equals 1 billion kilowatt hours


Total Global Non-Renewable Energy Resources

(Terawatt Hours)


Terawatt Hours



Natural Gas


Uranium 235




Tar Sands




1 terawatt hour equals 1 billion kilowatt hours

Source of above data – SunCell by Christopher C Swan, updated by Steve Heckeroth


In just a single year more than 32 times as much direct solar radiation, in terms of terawatt hours, reaches the earth than the terawatt hour value of all global non-renewable energy resources combined. Clearly, solar energy will be a key element in future energy supply solutions for the United States.

Rapid Growth in Use of Solar Energy in U.S.

Supply is one side of the equation but what about technology and consumption? In 2008, the U.S. was in the top 10 nations as far as solar energy consumption is concerned but we were towards the bottom of the list. Questions were being asked about solar as to whether solar radiation was as good a source as wind, biofuel, geothermal and tidal and wave alternatives. Some emerging technologies like tidal and wave advances seemed more applicable and appropriate.

Up until 2012 Germany was the single largest adapter of solar energy. This in itself is remarkable because in examining solar coverage viability, Germany is like the state of Alaska in terms of the amount of sunlight coverage. Statistics reported earlier this year show that 39% of Germany’s power consumption was being powered by solar energy.

For the year 2013 the United States grew to become one of the top 3 leaders in the global share of new solar installations. China was in first place, followed by Japan and then the United States. Germany had fallen to 4th place. China remains the leader especially in the use of solar energy for production and manufacturing. China produces approximately 60% of the world’s photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

In 2013 global cumulative PV capacity increased by 37 gigawatts to a total of 135 gigawatts, an increase in production capacity of over 37% in just one year.

How well suited is the United States to capturing direct solar radiation considering how the amount of sunlight available is impacted by weather, seasonality, the angle of the sun, etc.? The good news is that the U.S. is in extraordinary shape to make use of solar energy. In fact, other than Alaska and the northwest tip of the state of Washington, the rest of the U.S. is far better suited to the capturing of solar energy than Germany. Solar is viable not only in the Sun Belt states but throughout the rest of the country including the Northeast, the Midwest, the Plains states and the West.

In terms of new electricity generation capacity in the U.S., between 2012 and 2013 the amount of new power produced by solar nearly tripled in one year. In 2012 solar represented 10% of the new electrical generation capability in service. In 2013 solar had jumped to 29%.

Statistics provided by the Solar Energy Industry Association for the year ending December 31, 2013 are rather astounding:

  • U.S. solar market grew to $13.7 billion in 2013
  • There are nearly 143,000 solar workers in the U.S., a 13.2% increase from 2011 to 2013
  • The U.S. installed 4.75 gigawatts (GW) of new PV installations in 2013, up 41% over 2012 and nearly 15 times the amount installed in 2008 (just 5 years earlier)
  • Total cumulative PV capacity in the U.S. is now at 12.1 GW (capacity was at only 3.9 GW at the end of 2011)
  • There were 140,000 new solar installations in the U.S. in 2013, with 440,000 systems operating at the beginning of 2014
  • More solar has been installed in the past 18 months than in the prior 30 years (mid 2012-2013)
  • An additional 6 GW of new PV installations have been forecasted for 2014
  • The 30% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has been extended through the end of 2016
  • The average PV system price fell by 15% in 2013

Obviously, the outlook for the use of solar energy is rosy and incorporating it as an energy resource throughout the U.S. is only going to become more attractive. My next post will share how solar energy can be used to power your exterior signage.


John Selig
Marketing Manager

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