Solar panels sit on the roof of SunPower Corp. in Richmond, California, March 18, 2010. Reuters

The solar energy industry installed a record 14.6 gigawatts of capacity last year, setting a record and nearly doubling the previous high set in 2015.

The capacity of new solar panel installations last year increased 95 percent compared to 2015, the Research and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced Tuesday. New installation capacity hasn't doubled since 2011 when 1.9 gigawatts were installed, up from 0.851 gigawatts in 2010.

“What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement.

The growth of new installation is largely attributable to falling costs. In December, the World Economic Forum said the cost of new solar and wind energy is now the same, or cheaper, than new fossil fuels in more than 30 countries, Quartz reported.

For the first time ever, solar was the largest source of annual new electric capacity additions, the SEIA said. Solar generated 39 percent of new capacity in 2016, up from 30 percent in 2015.

Growing capacity has created jobs as well as electricity. The industry created 51,000 jobs last year, according to a report released last week by the Solar Foundation, another industry trade group. One of every 50 new jobs in the U.S. was a position in solar, the group's annual National Solar Jobs Census found. There are now 260,000 people employed in the solar industry, nearly three times the number of workers the industry employed in 2010.

While President Donald Trump has been dismissive of renewable energy, leaders from across the political spectrum have embraced solar and wind power. A bipartisan group of 20 governors Monday sent the White House a letter, urging the president to support investment in solar and wind technology.