One of the drivers for developing the distributed solar generation was the reduction of specific capital expenses. In 2013, the average construction cost for solar panels was a bit lower than USD 4,000 per 1 KW of capacity, but by 2020, it went down to USD 1,655 per 1 KW (more recent data are not available). Solar trackers are becoming more and more common, and it also has played its role. Such trackers allow for changing gradient of the panels depending on the time of the day. Tax incentives are also important: if a household installs a solar panel at its own expense, it may get an income tax credit amounting to 22% of the price of photovoltaic array.
California is a number one state with respect to using stand-alone panels, it accounts for 36% of total capacity of the distributed solar generation in the USA (14.2 GW). The overall share of the other four states from the Top 5 – New York (2.6 GW) and New Jersey (2.4 GW) on the Eastern Coast, as well as Texas (2.2 GW) and Arizona (2.1 GW) in the West – reached 24% in the end of 2022.
As for the average per capita metrics, the State of Hawaii takes the lead, where 541 W of solar panels capacity per capita was registered in 2022, while as California is only on the second line (364 W). Hawaii became the leader due to the commitment of the local authorities to decrease the consumption of fuel oil, which remains the main source of power generation. For example, in May 2023, the fuel oil fired power plants accounted for 79% of total generation output, while as all the other energy sources accounted for 21%.
Solar power plants (SPPs) constitute the number six source of power generation in the USA. According to Ember Analytical Center, in 2022 they accounted for 4.8% of power generation (including SPPs connected to the centralised grid). In this respect, SPPs were behind the gas-fired plants (39.3%), coal-fired plants (19.3%) and nuclear plants (18%), as well as wing farms (10.1%) and hydro power plants (6%). Only the power generators using biomass and rare types of renewable energy sources (1.6%) and those using fuel oil and diesel fuels (0.9%) are behind the solar power plants in the American energy centre.