Accessible Solar Power Ensures Our Energy Future
Accessible solar power provides many reasons to take advantage of the free and abundant power of the sun. The first and foremost reason, however, is that utilizing solar energy to power the planet is better for the environment than burning fossil fuels to generate the energy we need. Coal, oil and gas – the fossil fuels we have relied on in the past – are finite resources. The sun, however, is the most abundant energy resource on earth — 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.
Developing ways to harness the power of solar energy has been a long-time research focus in the US. Bell Laboratories built the first silicon solar cell, the precursor of all solar-powered devices, in 1954. The space industry became an early adopter of this new solar technology – using solar to provide power aboard its Vanguard 1 spacecraft in 1958. The Vanguard 1 — the first artificial earth satellite powered by solar cells — remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit. In orbit almost 60 years, the satellite has logged more than 6 billion miles to date and continues to turn in its orbit, just as it has done since its launch at the dawn of the Space Age. It has outlived most of the human beings who created it, but the solar cells it pioneered have revolutionized energy production around the world.
Accessible Solar Power Continues to Expand
Accessible solar power has come a long way since 1958. Today, demand for solar in the United States is at an all-time high. The amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 GW at the end of 2015. That’s enough energy to power the equivalent of 5.4 million average American homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The U.S. is currently the third-largest solar market in the world behind China and Japan.
To expand solar installations and to provide incentives for states and individuals to move forward with alternative sources of energy, the US implemented the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in 2006. Those installing solar could apply for a federal tax credit of up to 26% of the cost of design and installation. The ITC was set to expire in 2016 (a 10 year program) but has been extended until 2021.
Growth in solar is also measured by the fact that there are 14 US States and the District of Columbia that provide means for their power customers to choose “alternative” power suppliers. States, such as California and Arizona, have implemented their own aggressive incentive programs to encourage alternative power. A “net-metering” type of arrangement has been implemented by California, Arizona, and many other states, whereby solar electricity is “sold back” to the utility at the purchase price. Additional solar rebates and incentives are provided in multiple states as well.
Solar energy is steadily becoming an economical energy choice for American homeowners and businesses. There are still power distribution issues that involve permitting, zoning and connecting individual solar panel installations up to the power grid. But, it is clear that solar energy remains a viable and cost effective energy alternative. According to Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA), the millionth home solar panel system was installed in the United States this year. On May 3, 2016, the Association’s website states “It took us 40 years to get to 1 million solar systems around the country, but it will take us only 2 years to get the next 1 million systems. Those 1 million installations today generate enough electricity to power more than 5.5 million American homes. With continued growth in solar, America will generate enough electricity to power 20 million homes by 2020.”
Will your home or business be next? If you are considering a solar installation for your home or business, learn more by contacting one of our solar experts at Venture Home Solar. Call us today at 800-203-4158 or visit our website. Let us help answer your questions and provide you with our experienced analysis of what you need to “go solar” NOW!!