17 Jun California exceeds 10,000 MW of solar energy capacity
According to the latest US Solar Market Insight Report released on June 15 2015, California has become the first US state to exceed 10,000 Megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity. This means that California now has more solar assets than the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Belgium and Australia.
In the first three months of 2015 California made history by installing 718 MW of solar energy, raising its total capacity to 10,649 MW (which can satisfy the power needs of approximately 2.6 million homes). The new capacity included 231 MW for residential applications, 88 MW for commercial and 399 MW of utility scale applications and represented a $1.7 billion investment across the State.
Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President and CEO Rhone Resch stated at the announcement that California is showing the world how to get the job done in terms of creating clean energy jobs and protecting the environment, and put California’s achievement into perspective by adding that California has 10 times more installed capacity now than the entire US had in 2007.
Resch attributed the rapid growth in solar in California to a significant extent to stable and effective public policies including the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Net Energy Metering (NEM). Solar energy is still the fastest growing renewable energy source in the US and is supported by 90% of Americans.
California’s cause was greatly assisted by the completion of the Desert Sunlight Project which was developed by First Solar and is located in the Mojave Desert. It has the capacity to generate 550 MW of electricity which can power 160,000 homes. The residential market also flourished in the first three months of this year thanks to a 4% price drop on installed systems from the same time last year.
These systems have dropped in price approximately 50% since 2010, and the increase in their uptake is expected to continue based on a recent report by the California Energy Commission which showed that more than 25% of all new homes in Southern California have solar energy systems. At present 54,700 Californians are employed by more than 2,200 solar energy companies across the state.