The U.S. installed 14,800 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in 2016 to reach 42.4 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity, enough to power 8.3 million American homes. With more than 1 million residential solar installations nationwide and record-breaking growth in the utility-scale sector, the industry is poised to nearly triple over the next five years, surpassing 100 GW nationwide.
While the U.S. solar market continues to grow rapidly, solar generation still represented a tiny share of overall U.S. electricity, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The latest edition of EIA’s Electric Power Monthly shows that the portion of electricity that the nation gets from solar grew nearly 40% in 2016, from around 1% of total generation to 1.4%. Wind is likewise growing, with the share of electricity from wind rising from 4.7% in 2015 to 5.5% of all generation last year.
And while these are relatively low shares, solar and wind made up more than 60% of new generation put online last year by capacity.
A promising energy efficiency program could get closer to reaching its massive potential after a federal policy tweak that tempers lenders’ concerns to allow more homeowners to cash in.
Variations of the Property Assessed Clean Energy program, better known as PACE, already exist in more than 30 states. Until now, the program has skewed mainly toward commercial or municipal properties, bogged down by the mortgage industry’s notion that it would hurt lenders.
In general, the framework allows property owners to repay the costs of efficiency and renewable energy upgrades through city-sponsored property tax assessments.
Despite enthusiasm for its residential upside during PACE’s ramp-up in 2008, some mortgage lenders balked at its guidelines. They said payments on PACE assessments would be prioritized before mortgage obligations and limit refinancing options, a perceived threat to their business.
Looking for a new source of energy to power our daily lives may be as simple as turning our eyes toward the sky. Solar energy is one of the steadiest and most passive forms of energy available on the planet.
So, what is the definition of solar energy?
With increased awareness of climate change and more clean energy initiatives taking hold not just in America but around the world, it’s no wonder more people are looking up solar energy facts.
The integration of renewables and distributed energy resources (DERs) are driving electricity planning in California — inviting new and existing players to collaborate and battle over the future of the state’s energy system.
In advance of GTM’s California Distributed Energy Future conference, GTM Research and Wood Mackenzie examined some of the characteristics of the new energy economy.
In 2010, the U.S. installed 852 megawatts-DC of solar photovoltaics from just over 53,000 individual projects. The non-residential (aka commercial) segment took the largest share (40 percent) of that capacity, and the largest state (California) accounted for 216 megawatts of new solar.
How times have changed. In the record-breaking 2016, a year in which U.S. solar installations grew 95 percent over the previous high, the U.S. installed 14.6 gigawatts of solar from nearly 375,000 projects. The non-residential sector represented just 11 percent of that total, while utility-scale solar accounted for a massive 72 percent. California, still the leading state, installed over 5 gigawatts alone — over 2,000 percent growth relative to 2010.