The solar power industry is evolving at a rapid pace. Greentech Media reported that, sometime in the last two months, the United States hit a major milestone: completing its millionth solar installation.

“It took us 40 years to get to 1 million installations, and it will take us only two years to get to 2 million,” Solar Energy Industries Association Vice President of Communications Dan Whitten told Greentech Media. “This is a time to mark when the solar industry started to accelerate at warp speed.”

To get a better idea of the current state of industry, as well as the direction it’s headed in, consider some of the additional statistics Greentech Media revealed. For example, the solar market in the United States is expected to increase by 119 percent. Furthermore, at the current capacity of 27 gigawatts, solar accounts for only about 1 percent of the country’s electricity. However, is it possible that this value will triple over the next four years.

As more people begin realizing the wide range of benefits alternative and sustainable sources of energy can provide, an increasing number are looking into solar panels for both residential homes and commercial buildings. But spreading awareness on the topic isn’t the only reason attributed to the quickly expanding market. Below are three of the main factors fueling solar energy growth.

1. Lower energy costs

Technological developments will play a role in decreasing the costs of solar and, in turn, make it more competitive. In addition, if prices of natural gas increase, it will likely make solar even more appealing.

In an article for Singularity Hub, Peter Diamandis recently examined just how significantly the costs of alternative and solar energy are dropping. We have come a long way since the first silicon solar cell was discovered in the early 1950s. As time has passed, the efficiency of solar panels has increased from 6 percent to as high as 18 percent. This may not seem like a big deal until you learn the disparity in prices between then and now. According to Diamandis, solar energy cost $300 per watt in 1956. Now? Just $3 per watt.

“The more accessible and efficient solar energy becomes, the more affordable it will be.”

2. Advancements in technology

Technology has made it easier for grid operators to predict sun and wind power. In the past, the variability of renewable sources of energy could prove to be quite challenging. By being able to leverage technological tools and innovations that improve intermittency forecast capabilities, grid operators can decrease the demand of electricity and save what isn’t needed at the time.

3. Government support and public policies

Using sustainable energy solutions is not only possible, but highly encouraged by much of the public, thanks to the healthier environment and reduced energy costs it leads to. Therefore, it’s pretty difficult for policymakers to not move toward increased support for solar power. For years, the federal government has provided tax incentives for solar installations and some states have even mandated clean energy policies. Within the past year, the U.S. government announced it is putting at least a five-year extension on its solar tax incentive program.

As alternative energy sources continue to gain popularity across the globe, it is likely that the availability, affordability and advantages of using solar power installations for residential or commercial properties will increase. If you are interested in switching to renewable energy, you shouldn’t wait another day to get started on the process. Working with an energy provider that offers solar services can lead to cash rebates, demand-based cost savings, higher property value and tax abatement. When choosing between electricity suppliers, be sure you look for a company that has an honest and trustworthy reputation, as well as experience in your area.