Every 3 Minutes Solar Industry Flips Switch on New Project
Few things threaten America’s future prosperity more than climate change.
But there is growing hope. Every 3 minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is flipping the switch on another completed solar project.
Maintaining its vibrant growth, the U.S. installed 1,354 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in Q3 2014, up 41 percent over the same period last year. The numbers come from the latest edition of GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association's (SEIA) U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, which was released yesterday.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
According to the report, Q3 was the nation's second largest quarter ever for PV installations and brings the country's cumulative solar PV capacity to 16.1 gigawatts (GW), with another 1.4 GW of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity.
Solar is proving to be an important and growing source of new generating capacity for the U.S. Through the first three quarters of the year, solar represents 36 percent of new capacity to come on-line, up from 29 percent in 2013 and 9.6 percent in 2012.
Without question, solar’s continued, impressive growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for America. Every three minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is flipping the switch on another completed solar project, benefitting both our economy and the environment.
The report tracks installations across three market segments: utility-scale, residential and non-residential which includes commercial, government and non-profit installations.
Historically, the U.S. utility-scale market segment has accounted for the majority of PV installations, and this past quarter continued the trend. The U.S. installed 825 MW of utility-scale projects, up from 540 MW in Q3 2013. This marks the sixth straight quarter in which utility-scale PV has accounted for more than 50 percent of the national total.
The U.S. residential market exceeded 300 MW in a quarter for the first time in history. Impressively, more than half of this total came online without any state incentive. Residential continues to be the most reliable market segment, now growing 18 out of the past 19 quarters. GTM Research forecasts it to exceed the non-residential segment in annual installations for the first time in more than a decade.
The non-residential market continues its struggles of late, due in part to incentive depletion in California and Arizona. Installations in the segment were down 3 percent over Q3 2013. However, GTM Research and SEIA do expect year-over-year growth for the non-residential market.
The report forecasts the U.S. to install 6.5 GW of PV in 2014, a 36 percent increase over the historic 2013. Here are some of the other key findings:
- For the first time ever, more than 300 MW of residential PV came on-line in a single quarter and more than 50 percent of residential PV came online without any state incentive.
- 36 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. through the first three quarters of 2014 came from solar.
- Growth remains driven primarily by the utility solar PV market, which installed 825 MW in Q3 2014, up from 540 MW in Q3 2013.
- The report forecasts that PV installations will reach 6.5 GW in 2014, up 36 percent over 2013 and more than three times the market size of just three years ago.
So anyway you look at it, the sun continues to shine brightly on America—and our future.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
- Biden Commits to Banning Fossil Fuel Subsidies After DNC Dropped It ›
- As Biden Embraces More Ambitious Climate Plan, Fossil Fuel Execs ... ›
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Grayson Jaggers
The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.
- 15 Indigenous Crops to Boost Your Immune System and Celebrate ... ›
- 15 Supplements to Boost Your Immune System Right Now - EcoWatch ›
- Should I Exercise During the Coronavirus Pandemic? Experts ... ›
- The Immune System's Fight Against the Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.
- FDA Approves First In-Home Test for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- When Should You Get a COVID-19 or Antibody Test? - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
- Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial Into Agency Reports ... ›
- Climate Denier Is Named to Leadership Role at NOAA - EcoWatch ›
New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.