Solar energy had a big year in 2013, with over 4 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity added in the United States alone. The growth of the industry doesn’t appear anywhere close to slowing down. NPD Solarbuzz, a market research company that tracks photovoltaic solar installations, has forecasted that worldwide solar installations will total 49 GW in 2014.

That’s almost five times as much solar as the United States currently possesses, and it’s an indication of just how affordable this technology has become. NPD states that the growth is fueled by ever-falling panel prices and the fact that the utility-scale industry has returned to profitability.

“Manufacturing over-capacity and pricing erosion within the PV industry was previously a key factor in limiting annual growth to 10%-20% between 2011 and 2013,” Finlay Colville, vice president at NPD Solarbuzz, said in a press release. “With a more stable pricing environment and the prospects of increased end-market globalization, NPD Solarbuzz forecasts a return to annual growth above 30% for the PV industry in 2014.”

Most of the growth will be occur​ring in three countries: the United States, China and Japan. The latter has experienced increased development of solar power ever since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which caused the country to re-evaluate its energy agenda and switch to more renewable sources.

Solar presents enormous value to homeowners who are looking to save money on electricity expenses. By calling a residential solar installer like West Coast Solar to have panels put on your roof, you’ll be able to sell energy to the grid and run your meter backwards. This not only saves you money, but helps the environment as well by reducing your carbon footprint.