Since 2007, the growth of the solar energy sector in the United States is second-to-none, as the industry has become a cheaper and more-environmentally-friendly alternative. Case in point, as of 2017, the country has generated eight times the amount of electricity from the sun–and wind–than it did 10 years ago, which is enough to power more than 25 million homes, according to a new report.
The report, called “Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future,” and published by Environment America on July 26, highlights that, on average, Americans are also using 10 percent less energy than they were 10 years ago.
That said, the report suggests before 2007 solar energy was deemed “too difficult” and expensive until the early 21st century. “By 2007, years of intensive research, along with pioneering pro-solar policies adopted by states such as California, had begun to pave the way for increased adoption of solar energy,” the report states.
By 2012, Environment America’s report states that it took only five years–in other words, by 2012–for solar power to generate enough electricity to power one million homes in the US. By April of 2016, the one millionth solar panel was officially installed in the US–which lead to the country’s “biggest solar year in history.” By the end of 2016, the US was generating 43 times more solar power than in 2007.
By early 2017, the report states that the US produced 34 percent more solar electricity than it did in the first quarter from the previous year.
The rise of solar energy is so impactful that it could completely eliminate the coal industry by 2040, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report states.
According to the report, solar energy already “rivals” the expense of coal power plants in the US and Germany, and will have a similar impact on growing markets in China and India by 2021.
“Costs of new energy technologies are falling in a way that it’s more a matter of when than if,” Seb Henbest, a researcher at BNEF lead author of the report said.
Similarly, Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said earlier this year that “the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with.”
“Solar’s economically winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments,” she said.
But, which states are fuelling that growth in the US? The answer isn’t that surprising ,considering the Western United States dominate solar electricity growth.
According to Environment America, California leads the pack, with 27,432 GWh produced in 2016–an increase of 26,370 since 2007. Following the sunshine state is Arizona, with 5,408 GWh; North Carolina at 4,016 GWh; Nevada with 2,918 GWh; and New Jersey with 2,746 GWh produced in 2016 to round out the top five. Massachusetts, Texas, Georgia, New York and Utah follow to complete the top 10 states in solar electricity growth.
In terms of investment opportunities, for those interested in the solar energy sector, choosing companies California might be your best bet as that state is well poised to be a powerhouse in the sector for years to come.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.