A lot happens in America every four minutes. During that short time period, 30 babies are born, 4,080 McDonald's Big Macs are consumed, and 48,000 tons of CO2 are emitted.

And as it turns out, the U.S. is now installing one solar photovoltaic (PV) system every four minutes as well. If market growth continues at its current pace, the American solar industry could be installing a system every minute and twenty seconds by 2016.

That's a dramatic difference from 2006, when installers were only putting up one system every 80 minutes. Shayle Kann, vice president of GTM Research, documents the accelerating speed of solar deployment in the chart below:

Source: Shayle Kann, GTM Research

Here's another way to look at those numbers. This chart pairs the frequency of solar deployment along with projected capacity:

Source: Shayle Kann, GTM Research

It may not quite match Big Mac sales yet, but solar is on an extraordinarily fast growth trajectory. According to figures from GTM Research, two-thirds of all distributed solar in the U.S. has been installed over the last 2 1/2 years. And by 2016, cumulative installations of distributed PV will double.

That means the U.S. will hit 1 million cumulative residential solar installations by then -- making the market in 2016 ten times larger than it was in 2010.

For more information on American solar trends, check out the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from GTM Research and SEIA.