While much of the nation saw a drought this summer, there’s something else much of the nation saw more of than usual: the sun. While the drought may have not been good news for the farmers of the nation, it was pretty good news for the solar power industry, and it led to some milestones.
The New York Times is reporting this week that the U.S. solar industry, while still in an early stage of development, is growing like a weed. Some examples from the NY Times article include:
- During the middle of August, California’s utility-scale solar generating stations reached a milestone in generation — one gigawatt. This is the same amount of power as a substantial nuclear or coal-fired power plant.
- It’s being estimated that the California solar industry’s second-string generation – millions of small, personal installations all over the state – are also hitting the one gigawatt mark (though this is harder to measure).
- The number of megawatts installed in the second quarter of this year was around 742, more than double the 343 megawatts installed in the first quarter of 2011, according to a report released Monday that was commissioned by the Solar Energy Industries Association.
- The U.S. now has 5.7 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power one million homes, according to the SEIA report, which was prepared by GTM Research, a Boston-based consulting company.
- BrightSource Energy’s solar plant in Ivanpah, California in the Mojave Desert is more than half finished; when it’s online it will generate 392 megawatts of power.
- A 100-megawatt solar generation plant that is planned for Henrietta, California realized some of its goals before it’s even built: California utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric, recently agreed to buy power from the facility.
So where does all this good solar news lead? It leads to places like this: federal Energy Information Administration reported on Monday that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined 2.5 percent from 2010 to 2011.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman