We’re beginning to sound like a broken record, but there’s more good news coming out of the solar world. Through the first three months of 2016, new solar capacity outpaced natural gas, nuclear, and coal combined. In total, solar made up 64% of total energy capacity added, according to data from SEIA and GTM Research.
This is just the latest data point in a series of recently solar milestones. In 2015, solar additions beat natural gas additions for the first time ever. This year, we surpassed 1 million solar installations nationwide, and we’re expected to hit 2 million by 2018. All of this took place despite record low oil and gas prices, signaling a significant and necessary shift in how we produce and consume energy.
The driving factors behind the “solar boom” have been smart, forward-thinking policies that have helped make solar affordable and accessible to more Americans. From the extension of the solar investment tax credit to implementing and protecting pro-solar policies in several states, the price of solar is plummeting: The first quarter of 2016 saw the price of solar drop by 8.8%.
The craziest part is that this is only the beginning. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expects that by the end of the year, there will be 14.5 GW of new solar capacity. That’s nearly double the 7.5 GW installed in 2015. When you consider that the total capacity of the U.S. is currently at about 27 GW, that’s an astonishing jump.
There is, of course, still work to do in order to make solar accessible to everyone. But it’s news like this that makes us optimistic about the future and our ability to transition away from fossil fuels in time to avoid dangerous global warming.
We don’t mind sounding like a broken record when it comes to the future of clean energy and the health of our planet. Stay tuned for more!