Solar Power Growth Dominates the Renewable Sources in U.S.

Solar Farm

In its latest report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has stated that solar power is the most predominant renewable energy source in the U.S. It’s expected to keep growing at a breakneck pace. Solar power in the U.S. includes utility-scale solar power plants by the government, the private operators, and local distributed generation, mostly from rooftop photovoltaics. Solar power has become more affordable and accessible than ever before in the U.S. Since 2008, installations have grown seventeen-fold from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) to an estimated 30 GW by the end of 2016. This is enough capacity to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average American homes. From the year 2010, the average cost of solar PV panels has dropped more than 60%, and the cost of a solar electric system has dropped by almost 50%.

Markets for solar energy are maturing rapidly around the country. Solar electricity has become economically competitive with conventional energy sources in several states, including California, Hawaii, Texas, and Minnesota. Moreover, the solar industry is a proven industrial sector for job growth throughout the nation. Solar related jobs have increased by about 123% since November 2010, with nearly 209,000 solar workers. The EIA mentioned that this growth rate of solar is partly due to solar’s low starting point and the high initial costs prevailing it about eight years ago. Other renewable energy sources, such as wind power, or the burning of liquid biofuels like ethanol, still have a bigger share in the country’s actual renewable energy production.

Today the U.S. is among the top countries in the world in electricity generated by the Sun and the world’s largest utility-scale installations are located here. The oldest solar power plant globally is the 354-megawatt (MW) SEGS thermal power plant in California. Another fact contributing to such massive growth in solar power is, the United States conducted much early research in photovoltaics. It concentrated on solar power as compared to the other parts of the world.

Increased solar energy deployment offers countless benefits for the United States. The cleanest abundant domestic energy source available supports national security, economic growth, reducing the severity of climate change, and job creation. A study shows PV panels on just 0.6% of the nation’s total land area could supply enough electricity to power the entire United States!

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