Solar energy has been on a roll in recent years, helped by a drastic 64% decrease in the price of photovoltaic cells since 2008. Thanks to falling costs, over 2 million solar lanterns were sold in 2012, expected to increase 75% a year in Africa alone. Lowering costs and increasing affordability will be the biggest drivers for the continued growth of solar, so investments at both the project and product level are important to watch.

GE Invests $24 Million in India’s Biggest Solar-Power Plant by Natalie Obiko Pearson on BloombergBusinessweek
General Electric recently announced plans to invest more than $1 billion across the world in various renewable energy projects, adding to its $10 billion already invested in wind and solar plants. The company has started by putting $24 million towards Welspun Renewables’ solar plant in Madhya Pradesh, India. Hopes are that GE’s large investment will validate and boost the credibility of the country’s solar sector, allowing local developers and projects to attract international interest and continue to drive down the costs for solar equipment both big and small.

What Else Besides Low Cost is Driving the Growth of Solar? by RP Siegel on Justmeans
2013 was a noteworthy year for solar energy, with the 36.5 GW of new solar generating capacity installed globally exceeding the 35.5 GW of newly installed wind power. Falling installation costs was the biggest factor, but many new financing methods played a role as well. Re-volv has created a Solar Seed Fund in which community members can contribute to fund solar projects. This crowdfunding method has been used by many others as well, allowing individuals to invest small amounts of money into all types of solar installations. Financing is one of the biggest barriers to widespread adoption of solar power, and these innovative techniques are helping to combat this.

Google and SunPower partner up on funding home solar roofs by Katie Fehrenbacher on GIGAOM
Following Google’s announcement of a contract to buy energy from a wind farm in Iowa, the tech giant is teaming up with SunPower to provide $250 million in financing for leases for thousands of solar panel systems across the United States. Google will contribute $100 million and SunPower will contribute $150 million to create a fund that will spur further growth in the solar sector, the second largest source of new electricity in 2013. Innovative financing solutions are critical for the growth of the solar sector around the world.

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