Solar panels in San Francisco
Solar panels in San Francisco.
John Upton

This year is shaping up to be a bright one for solar power.

New solar generating capacity expected to be installed around the world in 2013 will be capable of producing almost as much electricity as eight nuclear reactors, according to Bloomberg, which interviewed seven analysts and averaged their forecasts.

That would be a rise of 14 percent over last year for a total of 34.1 gigawatts of new solar capacity, thanks in large part to rising demand in China, the U.S., and Japan. From Bloomberg:

Prices for silicon-based solar panels sank about 20 percent to 79 cents a watt in the past 12 months, after dropping by half in the previous year.

China, the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, is forecast to unseat Germany as the largest solar market in 2013, according to analysts at [Bloomberg New Energy Finance]. Projects have multiplied as the nation provides financial support to its solar companies in a bid to diversify the coal-dependent energy industry.

The Chinese government expects 10 gigawatts of new solar projects in 2013, more than double its previous target and three times last year’s expansion. The country plans to install 35 gigawatts by 2015, compared with a previous goal of 21 gigawatts, government adviser Shi Dinghuan said Jan. 30.

Let’s just hope the sun’s energy can pierce through through that thick sheath of fossil-fuel-induced Chinese smog.