New Report Shows Growth of Clean Solar Energy Benefiting Environment

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In celebration of today’s 45th annual Earth Day, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) plans to mark the historic occasion every 2.5 minutes of every hour of the day, as a new solar installation is completed in America. What’s more, new figures from the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review show a record amount of new, clean solar energy coming online over the next 20 months, greatly benefiting the environment.

In celebration of today’s 45th annual Earth Day, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) plans to mark the historic occasion every 2.5 minutes of every hour of the day, as a new solar installation is completed in America. What’s more, new figures from the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review show a record amount of new, clean solar energy coming online over the next 20 months, greatly benefiting the environment.

“On April 22, 1970, when the very first Earth Day was held, there was virtually no solar energy powering the grid in the United States,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “How times have changed. Today, there are 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity in the U.S. – enough to power more than 4 million American homes – and we’re going to double both of those numbers by the end of next year. That’s our commitment to America – and to our planet. By the end of 2016, solar is expected to offset nearly 45 million metric tons of harmful carbon emissions, the equivalent of removing nearly 10 million cars off U.S. roads and highways, or shuttering 12 coal-fired plants. That’s a pretty impressive ‘high five’ for our environment.”

Resch said that it took 40 years for the U.S. to install its first 20 GW of solar, but the nation will add another 20 GW by the end of 2016. Here are some of the other projections from the latest SEIA/GTM Research report:

  •     16 states will install more than 100 megawatts (MW) of solar in 2016. In 2010, only two states did.
  •     In 2016, California is expected to install as much solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity as the entire country did in 2014.
  •     The U.S. will surpass 1 million residential solar installations during the next two years.
  •     Solar will be close to generating 2 percent of America’s electricity needs by the end of 2016. In 2010, solar represented just 0.1 percent of capacity.
  •     All solar market sectors – residential, non-residential and utility scale –are expected to grow by 25 to 50 percent over the next two years.

“Today, the U.S. solar industry employs 174,000 Americans nationwide – more than tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined – and pumps nearly $18 billion a year into our economy,” Resch added. “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 Portfolio Standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the U.S. economy, as well as for the environment. For our industry, this truly is an exciting and promising time to be celebrating Earth Day. As the old saying goes, ‘actions speak louder than words,’ and every new solar system that comes online today represents a win for the future of our planet.”

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Ken Johnson
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