Coming off a great year in 2015, the solar power industry is poised to do even better this year.
As basically a part 2 to the last post about 2015’s record solar year, this one will be about expectations for the remainder of 2016.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration just released figures concerning scheduled utility-scale power installations for this year. New expected electric capacity involves 9.5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar, 8 gigawatts of natural gas, and 6.8 gigawatts of wind. It’s important to note that while the 9.5 gigawatts of solar is more than the other two sources of power mentioned, it does not include a few more gigawatts of solar that will be added at the residential and commercial scales.
A shining example of why this could truly be a great year for solar is that if proposed utility-scale solar projects are completed, this will be the first time that solar was the largest single source of new electric capacity.
The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that the total value from residential solar could be as much as 4 gigawatts, bringing the total solar capacity to almost 14 gigawatts for the year.
It’s fair to mention that a significant part of solar power’s quick growth pace is due to the investment tax credit, which has been recently extended another five years. It’s also important to note that solar is actually cost effective even without tax subsidies.
What’s the big picture take away here?
The big picture is that while solar power continues to expand at a rapid pace, we’re still witnessing the very beginnings of an eventually massive industry. While solar installations are occurring more quickly than other sources of energy, solar still makes up for a very small percentage of total power generation.
Solar may still be small scale, but there’s nothing to stop it’s much wider adoption. This is, in fact, is what’s beginning to happen. It’s very early days still.
The mass deployment of utility, commercial, and residential-scale solar coupled with affordable and effective energy storage will enable solar to become our primary source of energy in the coming decades.
Other sources of energy will simply not make nearly as much sense as solar power. Solar will be the cheaper option and the obvious choice from environmental and sustainability perspectives.
So here’s to another great solar year ahead….and many decades to follow!