Solar power is already second only to methane in new energy generation, and solar is increasing its growth rate much faster than “natural” gas. Solar is going to win, and quickly. How many unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous pipelines will we let the fracking industry gouge through here before we get on with solar power for local energy, local jobs, and local lower electric bills?
Mike Munsell wrote for greentech solar 7 March 2014, US Solar Market Grew 41%, Had Record Year in 2013: The U.S. installed 4,751 megawatts of PV, according to the Solar Market Insight Year in Review report.
According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013, photovoltaic installations continued to proliferate, increasing 41 percent over 2012 to reach 4,751 megawatts. In addition, 410 megawatts of concentrating solar power came on-line.
Solar was the second-largest source of new electricity generating capacity in the U.S., exceeded only by natural gas. Additionally, the cost to install solar fell throughout the year, ending the year 15 percent below the mark set at the end of 2012.
At the end of 2013 there were more than 440,000 operating solar electric systems in the U.S. totaling over 12,000 megawatts of photovoltaics (PV) and 918 megawatts of concentrating solar power (CSP).
Notice the accelerating growth rates. 46%/31% = 48% faster sounds good for natural gas. But 29%/10% is 190% faster for solar power.
And solar growth accelerated during 2013:
The U.S. installed 2,106 megawatts in the fourth quarter alone, 44 percent of the annual total. This makes Q4 2013 by far the largest quarter in the history of the U.S. market, surpassing the second-largest quarter by 60 percent.
“Perhaps more important than the numbers,” writes Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research, “2013 offered the U.S. solar market the first real glimpse of its path toward mainstream status. The combination of rapid customer adoption, grassroots support for solar, improved financing terms and public market successes displayed clear gains for solar in the eyes of both the general population and the investment community.”
And the biggest target export market for LNG exports, China, installed 12 GW of solar power in 2013, doubling its rate of installation, according to Jennifer Duggan in the Guardian 30 January 2014, China sets new world record for solar installations: China installed more solar energy than any other country in the world in 2013, quoting “an analysis by Li Shuo, a policy and energy analyst at Greenpeace East Asia.”
It is also more solar than China had installed in all the years prior to 2013 put together, according to Li.
Solar power is going to win, probably within a decade in the U.S. Add wind and we don’t need any new fossil fuel generation. Switch to LED lighting and we can shut down the entire U.S. nuclear fleet, much less build new nukes. We know the answer: solar, wind, and water. Green energy is already winning.
So let’s get on with solar power instead of wasting more resources on piping fracked gas, especially aiming for export. We can generate all the new power we need from the sun right here. Too bad if that won’t generate as much profit for fossil fuel and utility executives. Solar power is much better for the rest of us.