Forty years. That’s how long it took one million solar energy systems to get installed in the United States. According to Green Tech Media, it is believed that the one millionth installation happened sometime around the end of February this year.
While those forty years were met with plenty of economic, technological, and cultural hurdles, the tide is quickly changing. Solar Energy Industries Association president and CEO Rhone Resch said in a statement that solar installations will hit the two million mark in just two years.
Apart from the obvious trend away from reliance on the grid, Resch points out what this kind of growth will mean for job creation and overall economic growth in states where solar is catching on more and more.
With a projected growth of another one million installations in two years, one can imagine the kind of money that’s behind it all. According to SEIA, the solar industry experienced investments within the $1.4 billion range in 2006. In 2015, that number went up to $16.8 billion. It’s also worth mentioning that between 2006 and 2015, jobs in the solar energy grew from 17,000 to 209,000.
Growth is big but the share of solar energy in America is still small. Just 1% of all power in the United States is generated through solar, but figures show that it could increase to 3% by 2020. This sounds small, but we’re talking some serious power. By the end of 2016, GTM Research projects that 16 gigawatts of power will be installed.
Currently, there is enough solar energy to power a state the size of Pennsylvania.
With this kind of growth, what has it meant for the electric grid? It’s easy to say that the sun hasn’t quite been shining on the slowing, yet drastically still dominant industry. According to Bloomberg, the growth of residential solar installations are cutting into the purchases that grid managers make from conventional planets.
Come 2019, the result could mean around $2 billion in lost revenue for standard power generators.
There’s no doubt that the prowess of those involved in the solar industry has a lot to do with the success it has experienced in recent years. But a big reason for the growth also has a lot to do with cost-cutting programs implemented on both the state and federal level.
In his statement, Resch made his call for continued cooperation in Congress. “It is my hope that Congress continues to seize upon this vast potential, eventually instituting a solar caucus dedicated to the goals this congressional resolution spells out.”
In an effort to keep the momentum alive, SEIA has launched a #MillionSolarStrong marketing campaign to highlight the many accomplishments of the industry, as well as what’s expected to come. The homepage of the MillionSolarStrong features a wealth of information about where solar is headed, as well as the environmental impact that can be expected from the continuous growth of installations.