Solar energy installation in the United States hit some major milestones in 2015, reaching 7,286 megawatts, according to data recently released from the Solar Energy Industries Association. The SEIA press release declared that for the first time in history, solar energy installations surpassed natural gas capacity additions. Here are some other exciting facts about solar energy in 2015 from the release:

  • The overall US solar market grew 17 percent. 
  • The residential solar market grew 66 percent- it now makes up 29 percent of the U.S. solar market. 
  • Solar energy installations made up 29.5 percent of all new capacity to generate electricity. 
  • 13 states installed over 100 megawatts of solar energy each.
  • Top states for solar energy last year were California, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts and New York. 

According to Investor's Business Daily, U.S. solar capacity was only at about 2 gigawatts in 2010. Since then it has grown 1,150 percent. Solar energy is clearly no flash in the pan, and as prices fall experts believe it will only become more popular. 

The benefits of solar energy 
The Motley Fool, a company that provides financial solutions for investors, explained that solar energy is more plentiful than any other power source on earth. Every single hour, enough solar energy reaches earth to replace all of our other sources of energy for a year. The more we harness this incredible power, the better off our planet will be. Beyond the fact that it is so good for the environment, it is quickly becoming extremely cost-effective. Prices have decreased more than 99 percent since 1977.  Solar energy can also generate electricity in many different ways, from a massive power plant to a portable personal charger. 

According to SunPower, a global leader in solar innovation, those who install a solar energy system generally see a 15-20 percent return on their investment. Even more, a solar energy system can significantly increase a home's resale value. 

Motley Fool said some solar energy companies even offer solar energy installation for $0 down. Homes in shady locations or locations where electricity costs are not too high may not have access to these offers, but most homes in the Northeastern and Southwestern U.S. should be able to find a $0-down deal. 

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