Here comes the next huge wave of solar panels

The solar industry is booming. The millionth set of solar panels in the United States was installed sometime in the last two months, and industry leaders expect the number of solar-powered systems to double within two years.

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That’s a huge deal, experts say. While solar still only makes up 1 percent of the country’s energy mix, the swift rise in solar capacity portends a bright future for an energy source that, less than 10 years ago, a leading solar tech scientist dismissed as “green bling for the wealthy.”

Just 30,000 residential solar installations dotted the country a decade ago. Since then, the cost of generating power from solar has dropped by over 70 percent. Falling production costs, combined with improvements in electricity storage and a decline in the number of coal-fired power plants, has fueled the industry’s breakneck growth, according to Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“The power sector is being turned on its head,” Resch told reporters on Wednesday. “The ones that land on their feet are the ones that figure out how to produce clean energy at scale.”

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