The solar power capacity of installations in Mid-Atlantic states has expanded to over one gigawatt, or enough to power up to one million homes when the sun is shining. Solar capacity has doubled in the region for each of the past two years.
Some factors contributing to the expansion are government tax breaks/incentives, lower technology costs, and new financing options. One such option is a power purchase agreement plan where a homeowner can have solar panels and the required accessories installed for no cost, but they agree to lease the systems and buy the power they generate. PPAs have been used with government and business solar installations successfully, so it makes sense they would be offered to homeowners as well.
Still, one gigawatt is a tiny portion of the 186 gigawatt capacity for the whole electric grid systems for the thirteen states of the Mid-Atlantic. (D.C. is part of this same region.) Currently, just over sixty percent of the region’s power is generated by coal. In D.C., oil burning is the main source of electricity, according to the EPA.
Of course, fossil fuel power plants are a major source of air pollution. In 2010, a nonprofit environmental group called the Clean Air Task Force, found that pollution from coal-fired power plants could cause the premature death of more than 13,000 people in the same year.
Although it is an absurdly obvious point to state, electricity produced by solar panels, or other solar technology, such as parabolic dishes, does not produce great volumes of toxic air pollution. So, it contributes far less to climate change, and is better for the health of people, animals, and plant life. The fact there is even one gigawatt of solar power in the Mid-Atlantic, which is coal- and oil-dominated, is some cause for hope.
Image Credit: Skyfox11, Public Domain