Quantcast

Solar Included for First Time Ever in State of American Energy Report

Business

People in Washington love to talk about an “all-of-the-above” national energy strategy. But usually that’s “code” or “political speak” for efforts to increase drilling around the U.S. To its credit, the American Petroleum Institute (API) released a new, comprehensive report today, which gives us a look into how an “all-of-the-above” approach, including renewables, is working.

Solar energy is one of America’s great success stories. Last year, solar installations were 70 times higher than they were in 2006—and today there’s nearly 30 times more solar capacity online nationwide.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Signaling the growing importance of solar energy to America’s future, the widely read and cited annual State of American Energy Report includes, for the first time ever, a comprehensive section on the rapid growth of the U.S. solar energy industry and its impact on our nation’s economy and environment.

According to the API report, which included an assist from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar is now the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America. “Today, the U.S. has an estimated 20.2 GW of installed solar capacity, enough to effectively power nearly 4 million homes in the United States—or every single home in a state the size of Massachusetts or New Jersey—with another 20 GW in the pipeline for 2015-16.”

The report went on to say, “Solar energy is now more affordable than ever. According to SEIA/GTM Research,national blended average system prices have dropped 53 percent since 2010. Today, the solar industry employs 143,000 Americans and pumps more than $15 billion a year into the U.S. economy. This remarkable 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 Energy Standards (RES).”

“The solar ITC is a 30 percent tax credit for solar systems on residential (under Section 25D) and commercial (under Section 48) properties. As a stable, multi-year incentive, the ITC encourages private sector investment in solar manufacturing and solar project construction. As such, the solar ITC is the cornerstone of continued growth of solar energy in the United States. Under current law, the ITC will remain in effect through December 31, 2016.

“The ITC has fueled dramatic growth in solar installations. The market certainty provided by a multiple-year extension of the residential and commercial solar ITC has helped annual solar installations grow by more than 70-fold, rocketing from 106 MW to 7,400 MW, since the ITC was implemented in 2006—a compound annual growth rate of 53 percent.”

The impact of solar energy on the environment has been equally impressive. “Solar helped to offset an estimated 20 million metric tons of harmful CO2 emissions in 2014, which is the equivalent of taking four million cars off U.S. highways, saving 2.1 billion gallons of gasoline or shuttering five coal-fired power plants,” the report stated. “When looking at America’s energy future, solar can be a real game changer, providing more and more homes, businesses, schools and government entities across the United States with clean, reliable and affordable electricity, while also helping states to meet proposed new obligations under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.”

Most importantly, the report predicted strong, continued growth in all sectors of the U.S. solar industry—residential, commercial, utility-scale and solar heating and cooling—over the next two years.

“The United States is in the midst of a new era in domestic energy abundance characterized by rising use of renewable energy and increased oil and natural gas production that is strengthening our economic outlook and enabling America to emerge as a global energy superpower,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “It’s a remarkable transformation that has been made possible because America is uniquely rich in energy resources, a talented workforce and cutting-edge energy technologies.”

Solar energy is one of America’s great success stories. Last year, solar installations were 70 times higher than they were in 2006—and today there’s nearly 30 times more solar capacity online nationwide. We’ve gone from being an $800 million industry in 2006 to a $15 billion industry today. The price to install a solar rooftop system has been cut in half, while utility systems have dropped by 70 percent. It took the U.S. solar industry 40 years to install the first 20 GW of solar. Now, we’re going to install the next 20 GW in the next two years.  In fact, during every single week of 2015, we’re going to install more capacity than what we did during the entire year in 2006. Any way you look at it, solar energy is paying huge dividends for the economy, our environment and America’s future.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Every 3 Minutes Solar Industry Flips Switch on New Project

Fortune 500 Companies Unite in Support of Renewable Energy

Richard Branson and Amory Lovins Join Forces to Accelerate Clean Energy Revolution

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Wesley Martinez Da Costa / EyeEm / Getty Images

By David R. Montgomery

Would it sound too good to be true if I was to say that there was a simple, profitable and underused agricultural method to help feed everybody, cool the planet, and revitalize rural America? I used to think so, until I started visiting farmers who are restoring fertility to their land, stashing a lot of carbon in their soil, and returning healthy profitability to family farms. Now I've come to see how restoring soil health would prove as good for farmers and rural economies as it would for the environment.

Read More Show Less
skaman306 / Moment / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Radish (Raphanus sativus) is a cruciferous vegetable that originated in Asia and Europe (1Trusted Source).

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Tinnakorn Jorruang / iStock / Getty Images

By Dan Nosowitz

The budding research on cannabidiol, or CBD, attracts a great deal of interest in the agricultural field.

Read More Show Less
Oksana Khodakovskaia / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China that's prized for its sweet, citrus-like fruit.

Read More Show Less

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new numbers that show vaping-related lung illnesses are continuing to grow across the country, as the number of fatalities has climbed to 33 and hospitalizations have reached 1,479 cases, according to a CDC update.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
During the summer, the Arctic tundra is usually a thriving habitat for mammals such as the Arctic fox. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Reports of extreme snowfall in the Arctic might seem encouraging, given that the region is rapidly warming due to human-driven climate change. According to a new study, however, the snow could actually pose a major threat to the normal reproductive cycles of Arctic wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Vegan rice and garbanzo beans meals. Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

One common concern about vegan diets is whether they provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Many claim that a whole-food, plant-based diet easily meets all the daily nutrient requirements.

Read More Show Less
A fracking well looms over a residential area of Liberty, Colorado on Aug. 19. WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

A new multiyear study found that people living or working within 2,000 feet, or nearly half a mile, of a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drill site may be at a heightened risk of exposure to benzene and other toxic chemicals, according to research released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

Read More Show Less