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Solar Energy Gets a Boost

Solar Energy Gets a Boost

A report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicated the US solar market over the next ten years could grow by 100 billion dollars. The same document states current US solar capacity is just 1.4 gigawatts, but could rise to 44 gigawatts by 2020. The main reasons for such a dramatic potential increase are dropping costs of solar technology and government support. Other important factors are high electricity costs from conventional plants such as coal, and growing awareness of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.

Milo Sjardin, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Research Director said, “Policy, rather than sunshine, will remain the US’s greatest solar resource for the next few years. By the middle of this decade, however, the US retail solar market will be driven by fundamental, unsubsidized competition, which should transform the US into one of the world’s most dynamic solar markets.” (Source: Risker.com)

Just recently a huge 1,000 megawatt solar plant was approved for construction in the California desert, “With the approval of the Blythe project, the solar projects approved on BLM public lands in the last few weeks have the potential to generate up to 2800 megawatts of renewable energy. That’s enough to power up to 2 million homes, ” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. This project also calls for habitat to be set aside for native wildlife such as desert tortoises, the western burrowing oil and bighorn sheep.” (Source: Sustainablebusiness.com)

The cost of solar power without subsidies is slightly less than $200 per megawatt hour is about four times greater than the same figure for coal at $56 per megawatt hour. However, as solar technology costs decline, and subsidies are maintained or increased solar is slated to replace some coal plants. In fact it was reported recently an America company has said they found a way to produce solar panels for 40 percent less. Also, the subsidies for coal were not mentioned in the other source, and they are significant. A Sierra Club article states for the period 2002-2008 the coal industry received $17 billion in subsidies.

So when you see a cost comparison for solar vs. coal, always keep in mind the cost of electricity from coal needs to include billions in dollars of subsidies from the government in the form of tax breaks, etc. In other words, coal as a fuel does not stand entirely on its own, nor does the oil and gas industry.

Image Credit: Public Domain

Related Links
Nearly 24,000 Solar Jobs Coming This Year
Solar Panel Cost Could be Reduced 40%

Read more: Green, Green Scene,

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44 comments

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2:36PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Trying to share this once again. Hope it works this time. Nice.

1:16PM PST on Jan 15, 2012

Thanks

5:55PM PST on Jan 14, 2012

good news

9:18AM PST on Jan 14, 2012

This is good!

9:56AM PDT on Oct 16, 2011

Great!~

9:35AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Thank you very much for the interesting article

It is so strange, thinking about how long people do exist and how long it took until they found out that sun is everyday, that it gives light and warmth. How long it took to recognize how useful the sun is

7:20AM PDT on Jun 6, 2011

It would be even better if we didn't need to build in new space and utilized the space we already taken and also get it out of the hands of corporations. Every house, every building and every parking garage should have one.

11:21AM PDT on Mar 14, 2011

Awesome news! Solar panels are quickly gaining recognition today and the technology used to build solar cell panel is only getting better and better and if widely used can better our world greatly, another great thing about solar panels is that anyone can build their own panel for a fraction of the cost and its actually a pretty simple project.for more information check out this story http://www.care2.com/news/member/702523967/2744903

1:42PM PST on Feb 20, 2011

We have a town in Okotoks, Alberta that has a solar community..Drake Landing Solar Comminity, Okotoks, Alberta, Canada.DLSC is a master planned neighborhood in this town that has successfully integrated Canadian energy efficient technologies with a renewable, unlimited energy source - the sun. It is the first of it's kind in North America, is heated by a district system designed to store abundant solar energy underground during the summer months and distribute the energy to each house for space heating during the winter months.It fulfills 90% of each home's space heating requirements from solar energy and resulting in less dependancy on limited fossil fuels. Youtube..Drake Landing Solar Community, Okotoks, Alberta, Canada. Check it out!

12:27PM PST on Feb 20, 2011

As the cost of solar drops more will be used and what a difference this would make. Happy to hear of the solar plant to be built in California. I live in Northern Alberta and when electric sources are at the max, because our grid is connected to California we have been at the point of having to not use any electricity unless absolutely necessary.

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