In our prior posts on this topic we described the remarkable increase in U.S. oil and natural gas production. Another area that isn’t getting as much press but shouldn’t be overlooked is the renewable energy sector – specifically solar power.

2013 was a great year for solar energy installations in the U.S. and globally. According to an article published on the CleanTechnica website, on a global basis it was the first time that solar installations surpassed wind installations. As of July, Forbes reported that the U.S. had joined the ranks of Italy, Germany and China with 10,000 MW of solar capacity installed. With 930 MW installed in the 3rd Quarter of 2013 alone, the U.S. was expected by some commentators to surpass long-time leader Germany. As noted by the Forbes article, one of the main reasons for the increase in solar photovoltaic installations is the large drop in production cost. In 2008, the cost of a solar panel was around $3.65. Today it’s 50 cents per panel and that’s expected to drop to 36 cents by 2017.

What’s more, solar isn’t going away any time soon; stock market analysts are expecting an equally, if not bigger, year for U.S. solar companies in 2014.