America’s Solar Electric Capacity Set to Double This Year, Solar Jobs Will Increase by 26%
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This year the solar industry in America hits a psychologically important milestone – according to research from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research the installed capacity of photovoltaic (PV) electric will double to near or above 1GW.
US Today reports that “California installed the most solar electric capacity in the first six months of this year, followed by New Jersey, Arizona and Florida. A total of 341 megawatts was installed nationwide, but the report expects a stronger second half for 2010 because of projects slated for completion.”
This rapid growth should make fans of clean air and green jobs breathe a sigh of relief. Despite a challenging economic climate, homeowners, businesses, municipalities, nonprofits and utilities are moving towards renewable energy.
Doing It Local
ReVision’s own story mirrors that of the national news – so far we are on track to install more than double the amount of solar electricity in 2010 than we did in 2009!
We will install more than 1/2 a Megawatt of solar this year (1000 kilowatts), for a total of more than 1MW installed by ReVision since 2007.
To put this into perspective, 1MW of installed PV will generate 1400 MW/hrs of electricity each year, enough power for 22,000 homes, and offsetting more than 85,000 tons of C02 annually.
Who’s making this happen?
- Nearly 100 different individuals from 70 communities in Maine and New Hampshire – as far south as Mont Vernon, New Hampshire and as far “Down East” as Roque Bluffs, Maine. Homeowners in nearly all of Maine’s 16 counties have added solar electric this year!
- Locally owned small businesses including summer camps, kitchen and bath stores, hotels and restaurants, and general stores.
- High schools, colleges, town offices and libraries.
In short – ordinary people motivated by conscience and sound economics. Since PV is now cheaper than grid power in the long run, solar’s on track to provide a major portion of the energy needs of our oil-dependent state.
This sunny environmental forecast is good for the economy too – a new report this week shows that solar employment is expected to grow by 26% in the next year (more on this exciting story soon).
Here’s a chart marking the growth of the industry… We’re proud to be part of the solution!
The Need for More
New England made less exciting headlines this month with reports that New England had record-high electric use in July.
ISO New England, which serves Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, said that the region used 13,385 gigawatt hours of electricity in the month of July.
Chart-topping electrical use is married to eye-popping heat, as it was also reported that this July was the second hottest on record.
Given the scientific data about climate change and the enormous amount of C02 emissions created by coal-fired electric plants, this close relationship of energy demand to heat is particularly alarming (Earlier this year Grist reported that 2000-2009 was the hottest decade on record).
While the sheer amount of electricity we use can be daunting, the hopeful news is that renewable energy is becoming more plentiful, more affordable, and more economical.
With very real climate and energy realities becoming obvious, we hope to see government and utilities seriously implement alternative models such as the Grid Solar small scale solar utility projects and innovative feed in tariff legislation.
American Installed Solar: The Global Picture
While America’s doubling of installed PV this year is encouraging, we will only be installing roughly 1/2 GW of a global marketplace of over 10 GW of new solar installations.
According to a Barclays Capital analysis, “German installations are now expected to reach approximately 5.8GW in 2010” while China is poised to move aggressively into solar and hopes to increase their installed base to 2GW by 2011.
While America has a ways to go before we’ll be leading the clean energy global economy, our progress so far is hopeful, and significant. We’re all breathing cleaner air thanks to the contributions of hundreds of thousands of solar installations nationwide, and in 2011 we hope to see the amount of installed solar double again.
Here’s to a sunny future!