Solar energy is a leading industry in the United States as well as worldwide and the past few years have seen impressive growth in technology, installations and jobs. The San Luis Obispo solar energy team from Electricraft, Inc. recently released a report with some interesting facts about the past, present and future of solar energy and its role in the future of renewable energy sources.
In May 2021 the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that the worldwide growth rate of renewable energy jumped 45% in 2020 in spite of the pandemic, The report describes the growth as an “unprecedented boom in wind and solar energy.” A few months later, in November 2021, another report raises the IEA growth estimates for wind and solar energy by another 25%.
United States Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) reports that today, U.S. solar power capacity has grown to an estimated 97.2 gigawatts (GW) today from .34 GW in 2008. Some other impressive growth facts from the EERE report include:
- The estimated 97.2 GW are enough to power the equivalent of 18 million average American homes.
- “Over 3% of U.S. electricity today comes from solar energy in the form of solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar thermal power (CSP).
- The average cost of solar PV panels has dropped approximately 70% since 2014 contributing to solar power’s successful competition with conventional energy sources.
- The cost of electricity from CSP plants fell more than 50% between 2010 and 202.
- PV panels on 22,000 square miles of the U.S. total land area could supply enough electricity to power the nation.
- Projections indicate that more than one in seven homes will have rooftop solar by 2030.
The San Luis Obispo solar power team found it encouraging that the EERE describes the solar industry as “a proven incubator for job growth throughout the nation.” U.S. jobs have increased 167% over the past decade, five times faster than the overall job growth rate. Jobs in the solar industry include manufacturing, installation, project development, trade, distribution and more.
Since solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth with 173,000 terawatts continually striking Earth, and technologies for capturing and converting the sun’s energy to electricity are continually improving, solar as a usable energy source is here to stay.
Today’s solar technology has come a long way from the first silicon solar cell built by Bell Laboratories in 1954. The New York Times introduced the accomplishment in April 1954 as “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams, the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.”
Solar technology also has roots in the space industry, powering the first U.S. satellite, the Vanguard 1. Launched in March 1958 Vanguard 1 remains the oldest human-made object still in orbit.
The future of solar energy, especially in the U.S. becomes more solid by the development and operation of solar plants such as the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, which is the world’s largest thermal solar plant and located in California’s Mojave Desert.
Serving the Central Coast since 1984, Electricraft is a local, family-owned company with a highly qualified team of electricians and solar power technicians in San Luis Obispo. The team of solar installation technicians and licensed electricians have the experience and knowledge to analyze and install an entire solar system and provide all of the electrical wiring needs.