Southwest solar hotspots

2013 was another record year for the U.S. solar industry. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), there was a 41% increase in solar installation levels in 2013 over 2012. Solar accounted for 29% of all new electricity generation capacity added in 2013, which made solar the second largest source of new electricity generating capacity behind natural gas.


A ballasted solar system engineers from BE Structural inspected to ensure the installation matched the approved layout drawings.

Earlier this year, the SEIA created an infographic ranking the Top 10 Solar States based on solar capacity installed in 2013. It probably comes as no surprise that several Southwest states were included in the list, including California, Arizona, Texas and Colorado.

California added 2,745.8 MW of new photovoltaic capacity. This amount of energy can power 607,689 homes. Half of all the solar capacity ever added in California was added last year.

Sunny Arizona came in second with 700.7 MW of new photovoltaic capacity. In 2014, the use of solar power in Arizona will save enough water to fill 25,000 swimming pools.

Texas came in eighth in terms of solar electric capacity installed in 2013. SEIA deems them a state to watch in terms of solar and says that there is enough solar potential in Texas to power the world twice over.

Rounding out the list at number 10 is Colorado, whose solar industry generates as much revenue as its top-ranked industry: craft brewing. In 2014, the state generated enough solar energy to power 10,090 homes.

Close to 6,000 MW of photovoltaic capacity are forecast to come online in 2014. If you’re one of the many people considering installing a solar system on the roof of your home, it is important to consult with trained professionals, as an inexperienced solar installer can cause serious damage to your roof structure. Once you have chosen an installer, you’ll also want to call a structural engineer to verify that your desired panel layout and that the brand/type of panel that you have chosen will work on your roof.

Our engineers at BE Structural have worked with several solar companies, ranging from your small residential installer to nationwide installers. We offer the following services:

  • Evaluation of roof framing of existing buildings to ensure the roof is capable of supporting the added weight of the panels. For residential homes we often need to perform a site visit to gather all necessary information on the roof framing. For commercial buildings we can perform a site visit, or ideally existing drawings are available for use in our analysis.
  • Designing the attachment method of the solar panel rails to the roof framing.
  • Calculating wind loads to determine the necessary ballast weight required for a ballasted system.
  • Designing foundation supports for ground mounted solar panels.
  • Designing the solar panel rail support system for ground mounted solar panels.



A residential roof mounted solar system that engineers from BE Structural designed the attachment method for.