The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Solar Added More New Capacity Than Coal, Natural Gas and Nuclear Combined
Solar is on track for another record-shattering year. According to a new report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the U.S. solar industry will install 14.5 gigawatts of capacity in 2016, nearly doubling the 7.5 gigawatts in capacity installed in 2015.
The U.S. solar market will nearly double in 2016, thanks to large-scale projects led by utilities. Photo credit: Flickr
The U.S. has now reached 29.3 gigawatts of total installed capacity, enough to power 5.7 million American homes.
Solar—a pollution-free, renewable resource—will help the country move towards the low-carbon future it needs. In fact, 2015 was the first time solar exceeded natural gas capacity additions on an annual basis.
And now, just in the first quarter of 2016, solar made up 64 percent of new electric generating capacity, which is more new capacity during this period than coal, natural gas and nuclear combined.
"This growth cements solar energy’s role as a mainstay in America’s portfolio of electricity sources," the report noted.
The share of new U.S. electric generating capacity additions. Photo credit: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight, Q2 2016
California, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Nevada and New York had the top solar markets in this quarter, with overall price for all solar systems dropping 8.8 percent.
The report said that residential solar installations have increased 34 percent from the prior year. Commercial and industrial customers installations rose 36 percent. More than one million solar photovoltaic installations are now operating across the country.
“While it took us 40 years to hit 1 million U.S. solar installations, we’re expected to hit 2 million within the next two years,” said Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president. “The solar industry is growing at warp speed, driven by the fact that solar is one of the lowest cost options for electricity and it’s being embraced by people who both care about the environment and want access to affordable and reliable electricity."
The future is bright. This chart shows the staggering increase of U.S. photovoltaic installations from the first quarter of 2010. Photo credit: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight, Q2 2016
As Reuters noted, the solar industry's remarkable growth was due in part to utility companies scrambling to bring their solar projects online before the expiration of the Solar Investment Tax Credit, a 30 percent federal tax credit for both residential and commercial projects that was supposed to expire at the end of 2016. That credit, however, was extended through the end of 2019.
According to Reuters, "utilities in many markets are procuring solar as a hedge against volatile natural gas prices, the report said, pointing to the sharp drop in the price of utility-scale solar in recent years."
GTM said in its report that the extension of the federal tax credit will spur more than 20 gigawatts of additional solar capacity by 2021. However, the utility-scale market is expected to contract next year and in 2018.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.
A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.
The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.
By Wudan Yan
In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."
On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.
By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans
Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.