Here are excerpts of a report from Reuters online on how America is finally turning to solar a bit. Yes it is very late in doing so and Germany is still a leader along with China in manufacture but with the ubiquity and hopefully consistency of the Sun for the balance of our lives, solar is just SOOOOO smart and logical.
Good to see President Obama leading the way by re-installing Solar PV and Solar water on the White House.
The U.S. solar electric industry, including both photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) installations, could achieve a milestone by installing a gigawatt of new capacity in 2010. That’s enough to power 200,000 homes, and it’s double the capacity installed in 2009.
Less than 1 percent of the electricity in the U.S. is solar powered. But a new report from the SEIA and GTM Research projects that despite the sluggish economy, 944 megawatts of solar electric capacity (composed of 866 MW of PV and 79 MW of CSP) will be installed in the U.S. this year. That’s its baseline scenario. A higher-end forecast puts the number at 1.13 gigawatts.
Either way, that’s an increase of more than 100 percent over the 441 megawatts of solar electric capacity added in 2009. What other business do you know that’s growing by 100 percent this year?
Why the growth? Two reasons, fundamentally.
First, the costs of generating electricity from the sun are coming down–whether by using photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight to electricity, or CSP/solar thermal, which uses heat. Solar is still a more expensive form of electricity generation than wind or natural gas, but the gap is narrowing and some industry advocates say it is about to disappear.
Second, U.S. public policy is solar-friendly and stable. While Congress opted not to enact climate legislation, it has put into place an investment tax credit for renewable energy that will stay in place through 2016. Twenty-eight states have enacted renewable electricity standards.
The SEIA/GTM report says California led states for solar electric capacity installed in the first six months of 2010, followed by New Jersey, Arizona and Florida. (New Jersey’s on that list because of generous state subsidies for solar.) In total, 341 megawatts were installed in the first half of the year. The report projects a stronger second half for 2010 because a 75-megawatt solar thermal plant in Florida is coming online, as are several large PV projects.
The Solar Electric Industries Association has set a goal of installing 10 gigawatts a year.
“That’s enough solar to power 2,000,000 new homes,” Resch said. “Or shut down 10 polluting coal plants each and every year.”
Growing opposition to new coal plants, as it happens, is another driver of the solar business.
GreenBiz.com Senior Writer Marc Gunther is a longtime journalist and speaker whose focus is business and sustainability. Marc maintains a blog at MarcGunther.com. You can follow him on Twitter @marcGunther.
Solar PV = Solar photovoltaics which take the excitement of silicone atoms by photons to generate electricity
Solar CSP = Large mirrors concentrating the rays of the sun on a single point that heats water to generate steam and turn turbines to generate electricity
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