Solar power growth is accelerating and, when partnered with our region’s wind power, America’s energy heartland will help meet our Nation’s growing energy demand. The U.S. solar market has grown year-over-year in eight of the last 10 years, and every year the capacity of solar on the power grid and its contribution to the Nation’s energy production has grown.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy,
EVERY HOUR, ENOUGH ENERGY FROM THE SUN REACHES EARTH TO MEED THE WORLD’S ENERGY USAGE FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR
Creating solar power by converting sunlight into electricity would lower emissions from electricity generation and decrease long-term energy costs.
“Solar is now the new king of electricity markets,” says the International Energy Agency.
Technological innovations and demand for clean, affordable power has propelled solar energy forward to become the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the world! The U.S. solar industry is growing tremendously, with solar power accounting for 40% of all new electricity generating capacity added in the U.S. in Q1 2020. In fact, the total land use for solar energy has more than quadrupled in the last five years.
With this growth, communities enjoy a huge economic boost in the form of tax revenue, land-lease payments and new job opportunities.
Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth — 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously, equaling more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use, and it’s just waiting to be captured and converted to clean, cheap, renewable electricity.
SOLAR FACTS + RESOURCES
SOLAR ENERGY IS CHEAPER THAN EVER:
The cost of solar is dropping dramatically! The cost of generating electricity with solar energy is 90% cheaper than it was just 10 years ago, falling over 13% between 2018 and 2019 alone. New technological advancements mean that solar is gaining efficiency faster than previously expected, making cost-projections for new solar projects way cheaper.
In fact, solar will be the cheapest electricity source across the United States as soon as 2030, according to new research published by Wood Mackenzie. This means communities, businesses and manufacturing facilities will enjoy millions of dollars in energy savings as the resource continues to expand.
SOLAR POWER AND AGRICULTURE MAKE A GREAT TEAM
Solar energy help to preserve the land for future generations while supplying a steady stream of fresh revenue to rural landowners. Solar projects ensure land can recover, especially when paired with native grasses and natural pollinators to benefit an entire region. Responsible solar development could improve soil health, retain water, nurture native species, produce food, and provide even lower-cost energy to local communities.
A land-lease with a solar energy developer means a farmer or rancher will receive another steady stream of income that helps offset the ever-changing grain and cattle markets. This additional revenue, in turn, is used to make land and equipment payments, hire more hands, buy more seed and ultimately produce more exports.
Research is increasingly showing that solar panels can enhance growing conditions for specialty crops. This means that farmers could enjoy a boost in production, while receiving the financial benefits of solar projects, such as an increased income from land lease payments.
SOLAR POWER CREATES JOBS
Solar power projects create jobs through construction and technician needs, and by attracting major global corporations who want to build around and purchase clean energy. The US solar industry already employs about 242,000 people and generates tens of billions of dollars of economic value, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that solar PV installer will be the fastest growing job between 2018 and 2028.
SOLAR POWER PROTECTS CLEAN WATER AND CLEAN AIR
After agriculture, traditional power generation is the nation’s second largest use of water. Wind is an infinite fuel that generates electricity without using water. For example, producing the same amount of electricity can take about 600 times more water with nuclear power than solar energy, and about 500 times more water with coal than solar energy.
Solar energy also keeps our air clean by generating clean power with no emissions of any kind, fostering a healthier environment for all Americans.
ACTIVE SOLAR PROJECTS MAP
Click here to view a map of active solar projects produced by the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.