* Enough energy to supply 139,000 homes
* Costs remain higher than natural gas, fossil fuels
By Scott DiSavino
March 19 The New Jersey solar power market
topped one gigawatt (GW) of installed electric capacity, Solar
Energy Industries Association (SEIA), an industry trade group,
said in a release Tuesday.
That is enough solar energy to power 139,000 homes.
In total, more than 415 megawatts (MW) of solar was added to
the state's power grid in 2012, a 33 percent increase over 2011
(313 MW), SEIA said, noting, New Jersey is the third state in
the nation to the hit the one GW solar mark after California and
SEIA said the main drivers behind New Jersey's successful
solar market were the state's net metering laws, its solar power
requirement and the declining cost of solar power systems.
SEIA said the weighted average photovoltaic system prices
fell 27 percent in 2012, reaching $5.04/Watt (W) in the
residential market, $4.27/W in the non-residential market, and
$2.27/W in the utility market.
Despite those declines, solar power and other non-carbon
emitting renewables are still much more expensive than natural
gas and other fossil-fired sources of generation. It costs about
$1 million/megawatt (MW) or $1/W to build a natural gas-fired
plant, according to federal data.
SEIA said solar is the fastest-growing energy source in the
United States with 3,313 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity
installed in 2012, a record for the industry.
At the end of 2012, SEIA said there were 7,221 MW of
photovoltaic solar and 546 MW of concentrating solar power
online in the United States, enough to power 1.2 million homes.
Some of the biggest solar power suppliers and developers
include units of First Solar Inc, SunPower Corp
, Yingli Green Holding Co Ltd, Abengoa SA
, E.ON SE, Electricite de France and
EDP Renovaveis SA.