Solar Industry's Sizzling Start to New Year Could Lead to More Broken Records
With the coldest winter in two decades gripping much of the country this year—and wild price swings for natural gas rattling the markets, not to mention American consumers—it’s easy for many people to overlook the “hot start” in 2014 for solar energy.
But so far this year, it’s been good news followed by even more good news for the U.S. solar industry.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report, showing that nearly 90 percent of all new electric generation that came online in January was solar.
- The Department of the Interior (DOI) formally approved two new utility-scale solar power projects in California and Nevada, totaling 550 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity. Both projects are being developed by First Solar Inc. and mark a regulatory milestone. President Obama’s administration has now approved 50 large-scale renewable energy projects on public lands in the West since 2009—more than half of them for solar.
- The huge $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System—located near the California-Nevada border—was completed, generating enough power for 140,000 homes. This state-of-the-art concentrating solar power (CSP) complex is owned by BrightSource Energy, NRG Energy and Google. San Francisco-based Bechtel, the largest construction company in the United States, provided engineering, procurement, construction and start-up services for the project.
- Three weeks ago, in his nationally-televised State of the Union address, President Obama gave a personal “shout out” for solar, telling an audience of 35 million people: “Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced.”
- Four days before the President’s address to Congress, more than 3 million people took part in National “Shout Out For Solar” Day—celebrated as part of SEIA’s 40th anniversary as a national trade association—on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. This first-of-its-type event was also enthusiastically supported by hundreds of business and environmental groups nationwide.
- On the same day, working with its member companies, SEIA launched its new “America Supports Solar” campaign, which highlights solar energy’s explosive growth across the U.S., as well as its record-shattering year in 2013.
It’s estimated that the U.S. now has 13 gigawatts of installed solar capacity—enough to power more than 2 million American homes. What’s more, when all of the 2013 numbers are in, solar is expected to account for more new electric generating capacity in the U.S. than any other renewable energy source.
While 2013 was a record-breaking year, 2014 may be even better with 30 percent growth being forecast. Part of this unprecedented expansion is due to the fact that the average price of a solar system has dropped by more than 50 percent since 2010, benefitting consumers, businesses, schools and government entities.
And guess what? There’s even more good news on the horizon. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Sunshot Initiative, which is working on ways to make solar more competitive with entrenched energy sources, estimates that by 2020 soft costs should not exceed 65 cents per watt for residential solar systems and 44 cents per watt for commercial systems.
Today, 40 years after SEIA was formed, there are nearly 143,000 Americans employed by the U.S. solar industry at more than 6,100 American companies—with SEIA leading the fight to expand markets, remove market barriers, strengthen the industry and educate Americans about the benefits of solar energy. These efforts have led to the adoption of a wide range of smart public policies, including the solar Investment Tax Credit and net energy metering.
Considering solar energy’s humble beginnings in America, that is a remarkable record of achievement.
But you know what? The best news flashes are still to come!
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
A coalition of conservation groups and others announced Thursday that a historic number of comments and petitions of support have been submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior in support of Bears Ears National Monument. Despite the entirely inadequate 15-day comment period ending on May 26, more than 685,000 comments in support of Bears Ears National Monument have been collected.
By Lena Moffitt
An oil tanker in Mead, Colorado exploded, killing one and injuring three on Thursday. Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the explosion.
In an unusual procedural move, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers filed motions Thursday requesting the court's permission to withdraw from the Juliana v. US climate lawsuit, brought by 21 young people. The associations are following the lead of the National Association of Manufacturers, who filed a similar motion to withdraw on May 22.
Twenty-two GOP senators sent a letter Thursday urging Donald Trump to pull out of the Paris agreement. They argued remaining in the deal could "upend" the administration's ability "to fulfill its goal of rescinding the Clean Power Plan."
By Cheryl Johncox
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected on Thursday Energy Transfer Partners' request to resume horizontal directional drilling at two sites for its Rover fracked gas pipeline. This rejection comes after numerous leaks into Ohio's wetlands, and Clean Air and Clean Water act violations. FERC has halted the process at only eight locations of the 32 where drilling is taking place under Ohio's wetlands and streams.
By Nadia Prupis
A majority of people in eight countries say they are ready to change their lifestyles if it would prevent climate catastrophe, a survey on global threats released Wednesday found.
Bill Maher is sick of billionaires' obsession with Mars, more like "Mars-a-Lago," he said.
In a new animation produced by ATTN:, the popular talk show host of Real Time, discusses the perils of our planet, including how "climate change is killing us."