DOE Announces $59M for Solar Support

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced more than $59 million in funding to support solar energy acceleration. DOE is allocating $45 million in funding to quickly move US DOE logoinnovative solar manufacturing technologies to market, and is also awarding more than $14 million for 15 new projects to help communities develop multi-year solar deployment plans to install solar electricity in homes, businesses, and communities.

“As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address, the U.S. brings as much solar power online every three weeks as we did in all of 2008,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the price of solar continues to drop, the Energy Department is committed to supporting a robust domestic solar manufacturing sector that will help American business meet growing demand and help American families and businesses save money by making solar a cheaper and more accessible source of clean electricity.”

The $45 million Technology to Market funding opportunity is part of the DOE’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, aimed at boosting American competitiveness and supporting a strong domestic, clean energy manufacturing sector. This funding opportunity combines three historically separate SunShot Initiative funding programs—Incubator, Solar Manufacturing Technology, and Scaling Up Nascent PV at Home— into one that will support projects with the potential to significantly reduce the costs for solar energy systems across a variety of technology areas.

The 15 Solar Market Pathways projects pursue various approaches to developing actionable solar deployment plans and strategies to promote deployment at residential, community, and commercial scales—from expanding shared or community solar programs and local financing mechanisms to integrating solar energy generation into communities’ emergency response plans. The awardees include not-for-profits, utilities, industry associations, universities, and state and local jurisdictions in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

SEIA Solar Stats“We applaud President Obama and Secretary Moniz for their continued commitment to increasing the use of clean, reliable solar energy. Investing in new ways to quickly move innovative solar manufacturing technologies to market will only help build on the nearly 175,000 American jobs in solar today, and investing in cutting ‘soft costs,’ such as permitting and financing, will also help make the solar industry – coming off yet another record year – even stronger,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Resch notes that today the U.S. has an estimated 20 GW of installed solar capacity with another 20 GW in the pipeline for 2015 and 2016. “This tremendous growth is due, in large part, to smart, effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the economy and environment,” Resch concluded.

GreenLight Planet Lights Up Developing World

Greenlight Planet has raised $10 million in financing with the aid of Fidelity Growth Partners India and with the money the company has been able to provide solar energy products for off-grid homes in the developing world, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa and India. The company sells rooftop solar lighting and phone charging devices. GreenLight Planet says the devices will generate 55 million kilowatt-hours of energy, offset 1.5 million tons of CO2 and save their users over $340 million in fuel costs over their lifetime.

Greenlight Planet solar product“As a result of this financing, we’re building the world’s largest rooftop solar consumer base in the developing world, and we’re investing especially to expand distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Anish Thakkar, Greenlight Planet CEO and co-founder.

According to reports published by the International Finance Coporation (IFC), over 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live off the electric grid, spending $11 billion annually on kerosene, batteries and candles for light. GreenLight Planet expects to reach 100 million off-grid households by 2020.

“We see tremendous potential to provide affordable solar energy solutions for consumers in the developing world,” explained Kabir Narang, Managing Director of Fidelity Growth Partners India. “Greenlight Planet has established itself as a product leader with a strong brand in the fast-growing off-grid energy segment. We are excited to partner with Greenlight Planet and its exceptional management team as the company embarks on its next phase of growth.”  Following the closing of the financing, Kabir Narang has joined Greenlight Planet’s Board of Directors.

REAP Funds Still Available

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is soliciting funds for the Rural Energy for American Program (REAP).  The funding notice releases mandatory funding for both FY2014 and FY2015, as well as discretionary funding recently made available in the “Cromnibus.” The program provides grants and loan guarantees to rural small businesses, farmers and others in the ag community. However, some new changes have been usda-rd-logoimplemented including a new simplified “three tiered” application process, more frequent solicitations, and priority points for specific policy priorities such as the advancement of distributed wind power.

According to USDA, with two years of funding released at the same time, this notice of solicitation of applications (NOSA) sets a record for the largest REAP funding notice in program history, of $101.35 million. Program demand has decreased in recent years due to decreased program funding, so competition may be reduced.

“The REAP program has always been a very good one, strongly supported on a bi-partisan basis to help expand development of rural America’s abundant renewable energy resources,” said Jennifer Jenkins, executive director for the Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA) who has participated in the rule making. “Now it’s an even better program helping ensure distributed wind power’s continued role in bringing clean, affordable and homegrown electricity to rural America. I am pleased to see the efforts of the USDA for it’s great work on the program.”

DWEA President, Mike Bergey, added, “This program helps farmers and rural businesses lower their operating costs and become more competitive by installing American-made small wind turbines. Recent improvements to the program have made it more accessible to family farms and small businesses and we are very appreciative of the streamlining of the application process.”

Bergey is participating in the USDA webinar, “USDA Rural Energy for America Program Webinar: National Stakeholder Forum,” today from 12 pm – 2:00 pm EST.  The webinar will detail the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and the program changes.

Vernier Offers Wind Energy Lab Book

A new lab book, Investigating Wind Energy is now available for students in grades 4-6. Vernier Software & Technology spearheaded the effort. The book was written for and aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The lesson plans encourage students to apply learned knowledge as they explore electric circuits and investigate blade design variables using a variety of materials and technologies using a variety of materials and technologies, including the KidWIND MINI Wind Turbine, the Vernier Energy Sensor, and more.

Investigating Wind Energy“Our new lab book provides students with multiple hands-on investigations that explore renewable energy science, as recommended by NGSS,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and former physics teacher. “These types of inquiry-based investigations engage students in scientific discovery at an earlier age and provide the foundation needed as they progress through STEM instruction.”

The lab book includes ten investigations and one culminating project where students design, test, and refine a wind turbine blade set that converts wind energy to electrical energy. The investigations are designed to help students explore quantitative current, potential difference, power, energy and more in an engaging, hands-on way.

The lab book includes a table showing the Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science and Engineering Practices covered in each investigation, making it easy to use with the EQuIP rubric from Achieve. Additionally, it includes information on related skills, estimated completion times for the investigations, equipment tips, teaching tips, answers, sample data, and graphs in the teacher information pages. An accompanying CD with editable Word files for all of the student pages allows teachers to adjust lessons to meet their needs.

Geothermal Economic Survey Released

According to a new issue brief based on a the survey, “The Additional Economic Benefits of Geothermal Energy,” substantial revenues from taxes and royalties to state and local governments, long-term local employment and millions of dollars in environmental benefits have been delivered by the geothermal industry. This supports reports from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) that geothermal power is a long-term consumer bargain for the western power grid.

The survey was conduced by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) and found:

  • In 2013, geothermal power producers paid $29 million dollars in annual property taxes, including $21 million dollars to the State of California.
  • A 50-MW geothermal plant will require 310 person-years of construction and manufacturing employment.
  • An average 50-MW facility will create permanent employment for about 100 people.

GEA Issue Brief geothermal power employed personsGEA notes that properly developing the remaining identified geothermal resources estimated by the U.S. Geologic Survey to exist in the State of California alone could add 2,500 permanent on-site jobs, another 20-30 million dollars in property tax revenue for the state and almost 15,000 construction and manufacturing jobs.

The Issue Brief was prepared by GEA’s Analyst & Research Project Manager Benjamin Matek. He said, “The report supports the view of the industry, EIA and others that geothermal development is by far among the most economically beneficial out of the renewable resources available to western states.”

“These plants bring substantial economic benefits to communities through permanent employment, property taxes, rents and royalties,” added Matek. “Building one small geothermal plant in a community can generate $6.3 to $11 million dollars in property taxes that can be used toward education or other local services and provide 20-30 permanent jobs.”

Gigawatt Global Grid Connects Solar Project

The Rwanda field, a $23.7 million, 8,5 MW solar energy plant has been connected to the power grid. Developed by Gigawatt Global, this is the first utility-scale project to reach financial close and come online under the Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) program that is part of the Power Africa Initiative. The Rwanda field – constructed in the shape of the African continent – brought together an international consortium of financing partners.

Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. James Musoni, and the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), John Morton, led a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) near where the solar plant is located.

“Top quality developers like Gigawatt Global are the keys to success for President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, president and CEO of OPIC. “After OPIC provided critical early-stage support through the ACEF program, Gigawatt smoothly and swiftly brought the project online to give Rwanda enough grid-connected power to supply 15,000 homes. Gigawatt Global in Rwanda is a clear demonstration that solar will be a key part of Africa’s energy solution.” The project was completed in one year.

Rwanda Gigawatt Project Drone  Gigawatt Project Rwanda DroneChaim Motzen, Gigawatt Global Co-Founder and Managing Director, and the main force behind the development of the project, noted, “Our project proves the viability of financing and building large-scale solar fields in sub-Saharan Africa, and we hope that this solar field serves as a catalyst for many more sustainable energy projects in the region. The speed with which this project was completed is a tribute to the strength of the Rwandan government’s institutions and their laser-focus on increasing Rwanda’s generation capacity as well as to the nimbleness of our team and partners which spanned eight countries.”

The Rwandan project is built on land owned by the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, whose mission is to care for Rwanda’s most vulnerable children orphaned before and after the Rwandan genocide. The Village is leasing land to house the solar facility, the fees from which will help pay for a portion of the Village’s charitable expenses. Gigawatt Global will also be providing training on solar power to students of the Liquidnet High School on the grounds of the Youth Village.

“This utility-scale solar field at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is a symbol of hope for sub-Saharan Africa’s tens of millions of orphans and 600 million people without power, ushering in a new era of impact investing that we will hopefully be replicating throughout Africa,” added Yosef Abramowitz, president of Gigawatt Global. “We want to thank President Obama and Secretary Kerry, along with our other financial partners, for the opportunity to celebrate this landmark electricity-generating project under Power Africa.”

Harworth Opens Wind Turbine Project

UK-based Harworth Estates has completed the installation of a 500 kW wind turbine located at the former Arkwright surface mine, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire. The project was completed in partnership with Energy Prospects Co-operative. The site forms part of the former Arkwright open cast mining operation, which has been reclaimed and restored to agricultural land. Energy Prospects Co-operative raised money to fund the development of the turbine through a public share offer, giving priority to those who live locally.

Harworth Estates' installation of a 500KW wind turbine at the former Arkwright surface mine, close to the village of Duckmanton. The site forms part of the former Arkwright open cast mining operation, which has been reclaimed and restored to agricultural land.

Harworth Estates’ installation of a 500KW wind turbine at the former Arkwright surface mine, close to the village of Duckmanton. The site forms part of the former Arkwright open cast mining operation, which has been reclaimed and restored to agricultural land. Photo: Harworth Estates

According to Harworth Estates, the operating wind turbine generates sufficient energy to power around 1,000 local homes. Energy is fed into the National Grid, utilizing the grid connection adjacent to the turbine site.

Harworth is also working with Energy Prospects Co-operative to develop a second 500 kW turbine at the former Shafton Two Gates colliery site in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Work have already begun and the turbine is expected to be operating by summer of 2015. Harworth Estates and Energy Prospects Co-operative are also currently working on planning applications for two further single turbine projects. One is near Edlington, Doncaster, and another near Selby, North Yorkshire.

Hannah Moxon, assistant management surveyor, of Harworth Estates’ Natural Resources division, said, “These two projects demonstrate our expertise at transforming previously-developed land to support low-carbon energy projects. Funding through the share offer created a lot of local interest and support for the project. These wind turbines are an important part of Harworth’s commitment to the community and the environment. We also look forward to continuing to work with Energy Prospects on single turbine schemes on our other sites.”

Solar Changing Hawaii’s Electric Future

Hawaii has been getting a lot of attention recently for its efforts to reduce its use of fossil fuel-based energy. The state has the highest electricity costs in the U.S. Most recently, NextEra Energy announced its intent to acquire Hawaiian Electric Industries who owns three electric utilities that supply power to 95 percent of the state’s population. NextEra Energy Resources is one of the largest developers of renewable energy in the U.S. and intends on continuing the trend of adding solar power to its portfolio.

According to a recent “Today in Energy” published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), high electricity prices in Hawaii have made wind and solar technologies economically attractive alternatives – even more so as prices have come down in recent years. This has led to a growing use of wind and solar energy at both utiity scale and in distributed applications such as rooftop solar PV.

EIA’s monthly net metering utility data finds 9,200 net-metered PV systems were added in 2014 through October, bringing the total number of customers with net-metered PV to around 48,000. In Oahu, where most of the state’s population resides, the Solar Electric Power Association finds that roughly 12 percent of customers have rooftop solar compared to only .5 percent average throughout the rest of the U.S. The average capacity of residential net-metered PV systems in Hawaii has also been increasing as larger and more efficient PV systems are installed.

Renewable Watch Oahu - EIA Today in Energy

However, the state has seen delays in adding additional solar to the power grid. EIA attributes the delays to circuits on the Hawaiian Electric distribution grids reaching levels of rooftop PV capacity that are 120 percent or more of the circuit’s daytime minimum load—a key threshold for Hawaiian Electric’s interconnection approval process. Once that threshold is passed, an interconnection study may be required before the new PV system can be approved, which has resulted in a backlog of PV applications.

EIA notes that Hawaiian Electric recently entered a cooperative research partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute, and SolarCity  to study the operational effects of high levels of solar PV on electric grids.Preliminary research results have lead Hawaiian Electric to announce plans to clear its backlog of PV applications by April 2015. Continue reading

Alt Electricity Surpasses Natural Gas

According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, new renewable energy sources generated more capacity than natural gas in 2014. Sources including biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar and wind provided 49.81 percent (7,663 MW) of new electrical generation brought into service. Natural gas accounted for 48.65 percent (7,485 MW). By comparison, in 2013, natural gas accounted for 46.44% (7,378 MW) of new electrical generating capacity while renewables accounted for 43.03% (6,837 MW).

Biomass Photo Joanna SchroederNew wind energy facilities accounted for 26.52 percent of added capacity (4,080 MW) in 2014 while solar power provided 20.40 percent (3,139 MW). Other renewables – biomass (254 MW), hydropower (158 MW) and geothermal (32 MW) – accounted for an additional 2.89 percent.

For the year, just a single coal facility (106 MW) came online; nuclear power expanded by a mere 71MW due to a plant upgrade; and only 15 small “units” of oil, totaling 47 MW, were added.

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.63 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.:

  • water – 8.42%
  • wind – 5.54%
  • biomass – 1.38%
  • solar – 0.96%
  • geothermal steam – 0.33%

Renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.14%) and oil (3.94%) combined.

“Can there any longer be doubt about the emerging trends in new U.S. electrical capacity?” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Coal, oil, and nuclear have become historical relics and it is now a race between renewable sources and natural gas with renewables taking the lead.”

Offshore Wind Installations Stable

The European offshore wind industry has stabilized with new capacity installations declining by 84 MW in 2014 as compared to 2013 according to the new report, “The European offshore wind industry-key trends and statistics 2014“. During 2014, 408 new offshore turbines were fully grid connected, adding 1,483 MW to the European system. The total installed capacity for Europe now stands at 8,045MW in 74 offshore wind farms in 11 European countries.

Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said, “It is not surprising that we see a levelling-off of installations in 2014 following a record year in 2013. The industry has seen exponential growth in the early part of this decade and this is a natural stabilising of that progress. Offshore wind will have a monumental part to play in the EU’s energy security drive as part of the European Energy Union but it EU offshore wind industry trends 2014 EWEAis political determination that will help Europe unlock its offshore wind potential.”

Wilkes noted that the technology and financing are there but long-term policy support is not. This is needed to to avoid the stop-go growth the offshore wind industry has been experiencing.

In 2014, the UK accounted for over half of all new installations (54.8%) with Germany in second (35.7%) and Belgium (9.5%) making up the rest. But for 2015, Germany is expected to install more offshore capacity than the UK, which has dominated installations in Europe for the past three years. The largest wind farms to be fully completed will be RWE’s Gwynt y Mor (576MW) in North Wales followed by Global Tech 1 (400MW) in the German North Sea.

Wilkes added, “Germany is set to buck the trend this year. The UK has more installed offshore capacity than the rest of the world combined but this year shows that other countries in the EU are making serious investments in the sector. The nine financial deals closed in 2014, of which 4 were “billion-Euro” projects, suggest that activity will pick up substantially as of 2017 as these projects begin to hit the water.”

GEA Rolling Out Industry Assesment

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is rolling out an industry assessment and early results show that there were 3,150 permanent, onsite employees, or 1.17 permanent jobs per megawatt installed, at geothermal power plants in California and the West. According to GEA, this is 19 times that of reported onsite employment of wind projects and 5 times reported onsGEA logoite employment for solar projects.

“In addition to environmental and reliability benefits, geothermal power has important economic values to local communities,” noted Ben Matek, GEA’s Industry Analyst & Research Projects Manager. “While geothermal produces many more construction and manufacturing jobs, as do most technologies, we believe it is a leader in creating stable, permanent employment in the communities in which geothermal plants operate.”

GEA will be releasing employment and other data on the U.S .and global geothermal power industry at its State of the Geothermal Energy Industry Briefing taking place at in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Event speakers are all confirmed and include experts in geothermal development, finance, technology and policy. The GEA will distribute the 2015 installation of its annual industry update to attendees of this event that will include statistical updates on the U.S. and global geothermal market including new capacity online, how much is developing and in what regions around the world.

Sessions include discussions on key opportunities and obstacles for industry growth in the U.S. and around the world, multilateral and private finance, the role of technological advancements in geothermal development, and policy and regulatory issues impacting the geothermal industry.

American Wind Rebounds

According to a new report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the American wind industry is rebounding. During 2014, there was four times more new wind energy installed or coming online than in 2013. There was 4,850 MW in generating capacity installed with total installed capacity increasing by eight percent to 65,875.

However, AWEA notes that this amount still falls short of the record 13,000 MW installed in 2012 and blames failing to reach the record due to federal policy uncertainty. The renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) was only extended for two weeks at the end of last year, and has now expired again. Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO notes that every other energy source receives some type of tax relief and wind should not be, well, left in the wind.

Wind is gaining strength, but as recent history shows, we can do a whole lot more,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “We’re looking forward to working with Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle so that a reasonable, responsible tax policy is in place that allows the wind industry to continue lowering costs and investing billions of dollars in U.S. communities.”

Jonathan Weisgall, Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs of the Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co., told reporters that the $1.9 billion wind farm his company is building in Iowa is the largest economic development project in 2Q2014 State Blue Mapthe state’s history. When finished, it will pay farmers $3 million a year for land leases, and supply customers such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft that have committed to buying clean energy.

“Our customers want wind,” Weisgall said. “We like wind because it’s a hedge against fossil prices…and wind, with no fuel costs associated, can keep those rates stable.”

The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour generated for the first 10 years of a project’s life. It has encouraged $125 billion dollars of investment across America, creating 500 U.S. manufacturing facilities and technological innovations that lowered the wind power’s costs by more than half in the last five years. Continue reading

Green Seal Energy Cert Created

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) along with the Trade Chamber (CCEE) have created the Seal Green Energy certificate that confirms that company’s are using at least 20 percent of electricity produced from renewable sources.

Green Seal Energy certification works with the Bioelectricity Certification Program that will allow the exchange of information between UNICA and CEEE is confirmation that the electricity produced from a sugarcane production facility is generated from sugarcane biomass. The certification will also show that a company meets the criteria set out in the Sugar and Alcohol Industry Paulista Environmental Protocol, signed by the government of St. Paul and the sugarcane industry in 2007.

Sugarcane Plant in Brazil Photo Joanna SchroederThe President of the Board of Directors of CCEE, Luiz Eduardo Barata Ferreira, said of the new program, “The verification by the CCEE, that the criteria for plants and consumers will allow the Seal Green Energy become a differential that will add value for both the generator and buyer of energy produced from biomass of cane sugar.”

In 2014, 20.815 million gigawatts/hour (GWh) of electricity from biomass was produced, 20 percent higher than achieved in 2013. This amount would be able to supply 11 million households. UNICA also cites that if there was no electricity derived from sugarcane biomass, CO2 levels would be 24 percent higher.

Elizabeth Farina, president of UNICA added, “With the full energy use of sugarcane biomass, the technical potential of this source could reach 20,000 MW by 2023, which corresponds to the energy produced by two plants Itaipu. And certainly, this certification program will help to take advantage of increasing their potential.”

Solar Net Metering Ends in Cali

Net metering in California is ending and solar customers are not happy. The billing arrangement that allows solar owners full retail credit for the energy they put back on the grid (aka net metering) is ending so consumers and businesses who wait until summer to install their solar systems will miss out on the program.

“The upcoming changes for solar producers will undoubtedly create an unprecedented demand,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. “Property owners Sullivan Solar Power Home installationthat wait until June to sign up to go solar may miss their chance to receive the full retail credit that current solar producers receive.”

As explained by Sullivan, net energy metering will end once a certain amount of solar is installed in each utility territory, and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) will be the first utility to reach its cap. Anyone that installs solar before the cap is hit will receive full retail credit for energy they produce, and will be grandfathered in for 20-years. Once net metering ends, new homes and businesses that install solar will receive less credit for the energy they produce.

“The period for going solar under the current net metering rules could end for SDG&E customers by December or even earlier, depending on how many people install solar this year,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). According to President Obama during his SOTU speech on Tuesday, today more solar energy is installed in the U.S. each week than in the entirety of 2008. Continue reading

Solar Jobs Increase Again in 2014

Outpacing the growth of the U.S. economy as a whole by 20 percent, the solar industry added another 31,000 jobs in 2014. The Solar Foundation (TSF) released the Solar Census Report late last week and found that total employment in the solar sector is 173,807 workers. Key findings included:

  • Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total employment in the solar industry increase by 20.9% to 210,060 solar workers.
  • One out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. since Census 2013 was created by the solar industry – representing 1.3% of all new jobs.
  • Of the 173,807 solar workers in the United States, approximately 157,500 are 100% dedicated to solar activities.
  • Wages paid to solar workers remain competitive with similar industries and provide many living-wage opportunities.
  • The installation sector remains the single largest source of domestic employment growth, more than doubling in size since 2010.
  • Solar workers are increasingly diverse. Demographic groups such as Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and African American, along with women and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces now represent a larger percentage of the solar workforce than was observed in Census 2013.

Solar energy is becoming an increasingly important part of America’s future – and this Infographic-National-Solar-Jobs-Census-2014-194x300new report offers additional proof of that,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Not only is solar helping to power more and more homes, businesses, schools and government buildings, but it’s also helping to power the U.S. economy in a very significant way – and, frankly, we’re just scratching the surface of our enormous potential.

Resch noted that the growth is due, in part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). He added that the policies are paying huge dividends for the economy and the environment.

“Today, the U.S. has an estimated 20.2 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity, enough to effectively power nearly 4 million homes in the United States – or every single home in a state the size of Massachusetts or New Jersey – with another 20 GW in the pipeline for 2015 and 2016,” continued Resch. “This is going to help to create even more new jobs. What’s more, solar helped to offset an estimated 20 million metric tons of harmful CO2 emissions in 2014—the equivalent of taking 4 million cars off U.S. highways or saving 2.1 billion gallons of gasoline. We applaud The Solar Foundation for its hard work in putting together this comprehensive report, which helps to highlight the growing importance of solar energy to America and our future.”