If you keep up with solar energy news and energy news, in general, 4.2% of U.S. electricity coming from solar energy by 2020 probably sounds like a good estimate. According to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, that is exactly what the U.S. could reach due to continuously decreasing solar costs and continuous investment in this energy sector.
Investments in solar are expected to hit $100 billion over the next decade and the report predicts that with this amount of investment solar capacity could go from the 1,400 megawatts it’s at today to 44,000 megawatts by 2020.
“There is a very positive growth story for solar in the U.S.,” Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of New Energy Finance for Bloomberg, said. “A few more years of support, and then the engine of unsubsidized competitiveness will take over.”
As I wrote just a few weeks ago, the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) is also predicting significant, continuous growth over the next several years. It is the fastest-growing energy industry in the U.S. and there is no reason to believe that growth would slow down.
Solar costs have been dropping for over a decade and one report a few months ago found that we have passed a historic crossover where solar costs have met and dropped below rising nuclear energy costs. That trend of solar becoming much more competitive with other, traditional energy sources is expected to continue as its costs continue to fall while dirty energy costs continue to rise.
In the meantime, combined with dropping costs and due to the long-term vision of some of our country’s leaders, solar incentives are helping solar to grow at a great pace.
Regarding solar growth up to today, Reed Landberg of Bloomberg writes:
A drop in costs for both solar thermal technology and solar photovoltaic panels to less than $200 a megawatt-hour has helped increase returns on investments. Commercial rooftop solar systems generate returns of 8 percent to 14 percent in some states and more in states with strong incentives such as Hawaii, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
The Sun is always there. Looks like we are finally realizing that we can tap into it more than we have been and are finding better and better ways to do so.
Photo Credit: premasagar via flickr (CC license)