Solar – The Fastest Growing Renewable Energy in the US!
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) recently released a video report that demonstrates the spectacular growth of solar power in the U.S. between 2004 and 2014. Solar Energy in the United States: A Decade of Record Growth presents some amazing statistics, proving that America, and many here in our home state of Wisconsin, are definitely “warming up” to the idea of solar power.
Evidence of this growth is seen in the increase in megawatts of solar energy installed throughout the country. In 2004, for example, there were a mere 500 megawatts from coast to coast. Ten years later, that figure jumped to 20,000 megawatts. For perspective, this is sufficient power to serve more than four million homes.
About 97% of that capacity was installed after the passing of the federal solar Investment Tax Credit, which amounts to 30% for both residential customers who have systems installed as well as entities engaged in the development, planning and installation of solar systems.
The tax credit was created in 2006 and extended in 2008 to run through Dec. 31, 2016. Now is the perfect opportunity to let our solar specialists help you plan your new solar project to make sure you meet the 2016 deadline.
Economic and environmental impacts
From a monetary standpoint, investments in solar project installations catapulted from $2.6 billion to $71.1 billion in the last 10 years. This is a dramatic increase, but even more important – at least in the long-term – may be the positive effect that solar power has had on the environment.
The use of solar power is on target by 2016 to prevent upwards of 45 million metric tons of dangerous carbon emissions that would otherwise wind up in the atmosphere. This offsetting is the equivalent of reducing the number of vehicles on our roadways by 10 million or closing down 12 plants that rely on coal for energy.
Clearly solar power is doing the job it was expected to do. A public that’s more educated about the benefits of solar energy and about the negatives introduced by many other energy systems has truly embraced the new technology.
Again looking at this decade of growth, we find that in 2004, only two out of 50 states were using at least 10 megawatts of installed solar power. By 2014, 35 states were operating at or above this level, with at least 100 megawatts of solar power being used by 20 of those states.
Here are a few of the interesting points brought out in the SEIA’s video report:
- Ten years ago, roughly 15,500 U.S. homes had received solar photovoltaic installations. That number grew to 600,000 through the end of 2014.
- Solar capacity in America in 2004 had reached 58 megawatts. A decade later, that capacity (or more) had been installed in 14 different states for a total of 7,000 megawatts nationwide.
- During the decade studied, the cost of residential solar installations dropped by over 60%. The cost of utility-scale installations dropped by more than 73% in the same time frame.
- Employment in the solar industry jumped from fewer than 20,000 workers in 2004 to 174,000 in 2014.
It will be interesting to watch the continued growth of solar power, as Americans learn more about how this clean energy source can provide countless benefits to our cities and towns.