2016 was a record-breaking year in numerous ways when it comes to solar. Whether we attribute this to increased passion for the environment and clean energy or lower costs of installation, the stats from SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) are impressive, to say the least. Let’s take a look at the state of solar after the last year.
US solar smashed records in 2016
During just Quarter 3 of 2016, 4.1 GW of solar was installed in the U.S. To put that in perspective, that’s enough solar to power one new home every 11 seconds. Solar is proving to be a strong economic force, with almost 209,000 people currently working in the solar industry which is more than double that of 2010. Last year we also broke 1 million total residential solar installations within the US.
California dominates in solar capacity, but others show potential
California has been a good example of how you can increase industry and production without increasing carbon emissions. While their population and economy grew between 1990 and 2014, California’s emissions per GDP dropped 36%. In 2016, California makes up 34% of the solar market share in the U.S. with a solar capacity over 16,000 MW. However, North Carolina and Arizona are gaining traction with about 2,500 MW capacity and New Jersey, Nevada, and Massachusetts fall just shortly behind.
Solar has proven to be good for business
More and more Fortune 500 companies are utilizing solar for their energy, saving themselves money and reducing carbon emissions at the same time. By the end of 2016, these companies had 2,000 individual installations countrywide, offsetting 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. As of October 2016, Target was the U.S. company producing the most solar energy at 147 megawatts, Walmart falling shortly behind at 145 megawatts. Other companies with large installations include Costco, Apple, and Kohl’s. IKEA has installed solar panels at 90% of their facilities.
Still room for growth
Though we’ve made incredible strides over the past two decades in increasing our renewable solar energy production, we have a way to go still. While electricity capacity of solar in the US increased from 334 megawatts in 1997 to 13,406 megawatts in 2015, solar still only makes up .5% of our total energy consumption. In total, renewable energies make up about 10% of the United States energy consumption.