Saturday, August 24, 2013

Great Solar Facts!

Rhone Resch 
August 23, 2013  |  1 Comments
Every day, I talk to groups and reporters about the amazing growth of solar all across the United States. But for the past week, there has been more buzz than ever about America’s solar industry because of the decision by President Obama to install solar panels on the White House.
Think about it. Is there any billboard in the world better for your industry than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Not a shot!
In some ways, this is like getting the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. We put a bug in President Obama’s ear about installing solar panels on the White House when he first took office in 2009, and we’ve brought it up in every meeting since then. To see this finally happen is not only gratifying, but it also helps to highlight solar as a mainstream source of clean, abundant and affordable energy. 
So I thought it would be a great time to share with you some fun facts about solar:
  • Today, solar generates enough electricity in the United States to power 1.3 million American homes — that’s the equivalent of every home in the state of Connecticut.
  • Since the beginning of 2010, average panel prices have declined by more than 70 percent and average system prices have declined by nearly 50 percent, making solar more affordable than ever for more families and companies.
  • A solar system is installed in the U.S. every four minutes. That breaks down to two panels every second.
  • Right now, more than 30 utility-scale, clean energy solar projects are under construction in the United States — utilizing both CSP and PV technologies.
  • A utility-scale solar power plant can generate as much electricity as a medium-sized, coal-burning power plant — and without the pollution!
  • Total installed solar photovoltaic capacity grew more than 76 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, with growth in all market segments — residential, commercial and utility — making solar one of the fastest-growing industries in America.
  • Solar is by far the nation’s single most abundant renewable energy resource.  NREL estimates that there is enough available rooftop area alone to support 819 terawatt hours of solar energy each year.
  • Over the past five years, polls consistently show that 9 out of 10 Americans support solar and want to see its expanded use in the United States.
  • The Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program has an approximately 97 percent success rate.
  • Colorado now has enough solar capacity to power nearly 50,000 homes.  If you stacked the panels, they would reach 3 miles into the sky! (Top 10 Solar States)
  • A rapidly-growing solar industry in Maryland has already surpassed the state’s famous crab industry in value. 
  • Hawaii gets a greater percentage of electricity from solar than any other state. 
  • Solar has quadrupled in Massachusetts this year, bolstered by strong solar policies. In fact, the solar industry made more money installing panels than the New England Patriots did selling tickets! 
  • If you include all the usable land (not just rooftops) in Texas, you would have twice the solar potential of any other state.
  • There are more solar businesses in New Jersey than tanning salons.  Think about that for a second. 
  • Arizona installed more utility-scale solar in 2012 than any other state. 
  • California installed more overall solar than any other state in 2012. If California was a nation, it would rank 7th globally in installed PV capacity.
  • And, finally, there are more solar energy workers in California than there are actors; there are more solar energy workers in Texas than there are ranchers; and nationwide, there are more solar energy workers than there are coal miners. (Solar Foundation
I hope that you took some notes.  We’ll have a pop quiz on Monday.  Thanks for all that you do to support solar in America!
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Solar Capacity to Double in Next 2.5 Years

If you want to understand why people so often compare deployment trends in solar photovoltaics (PV) to Moore's law in computing, consider this statistic: two-thirds of all solar PV capacity in place worldwide has been installed since January 2011.
Let's put that into perspective. It took nearly four decades to install 50 gigawatts of PV capacity worldwide. But in the last 2 1/2 years, the industry jumped from 50 gigawatts of PV capacity to just over 100 gigawatts. At the same time, global module prices have fallen 62 percent since January 2011.
Even more amazingly, the solar industry is on track to install another 100 gigawatts worldwide by 2015 -- nearly doubling solar capacity in the next 2 1/2 years.
Those statistics and the chart below, courtesy of GTM Research Senior Analyst MJ Shiao, illustrate the exponential growth in the global PV market.
Source: GTM Research
And as Shiao's second chart below shows, the U.S. distributed solar market is on pretty much the same growth trajectory. More than two-thirds of America's distributed PV (everything except for utility-scale projects) has been installed since January 2011. And by 2015, the country's distributed PV market is expected to jump by more than 200 percent.
There are a few key takeaways from these figures.
First, utilities still dismissing solar as inconsequential or "cute" may soon be in for a rude awakening. According to the Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and SEIA, the national average for residential system prices fell another 18 percent last year; non-residential prices fell 13.3 percent.
The falling cost and price of installation is starting to open up new markets without incentives. As Shayle Kann, vice president of GTM Research, pointed out recently, roughly 3,000 residential solar systems were installed in California without the use of any state incentives in the first quarter of this year. 
"This is emblematic of a sea change in the solar industry, and even more importantly, in the energy industry," wrote Kann.
But this rapid increase in installations won't create challenges for just utilities -- it will also create challenges for the solar industry itself. Since the solar market is still at the beginning of a steep growth curve, it's hard to say whether the business models and technologies we know today are going to be successful in the future.
This will likely mean more bankruptcies and more consolidation. It will also test the reliability of products operating in the field.
Because two-thirds of PV capacity in the field today was only installed in the last couple of years, a majority of the products are still very new. Solar is a multi-decade investment, and there is uncertainty around how new hardware will perform over the long term, explained Shiao.
"We're really at the beginning stages of understanding PV in terms of products in the field, viable business models, and effects on the grid, especially when you consider that PV is being sold many times as a twenty-year asset. Now is the time to look deeper into issues surrounding product reliability, market sustainability and O&M business models."
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