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Published on July 5th, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill

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California Solar Generation Grew 1,378% In 5 Years

July 5th, 2016 by  

The total electricity generated from solar in the US state of California between 2009 and 2014 increased an astonishing 1,378%.

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This is one of the key findings from the 8th edition of Next 10’s California Green Innovation Index, released in late June. In addition to the mind-blowing solar statistics, zero emission vehicle (ZEV) adoption rates have also increased, renewable energy sources served 25% of California’s retail electricity sales, and it generated 20.1% of the state’s total electricity in 2014 — up from 12% in 2009.

“As the sixth largest economy in the world and an innovator in climate and energy policy, California is forging a decoupling between economic growth and carbon emissions per-capita,” said F. Noel Perry, businessman and founder of the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10. “California is not only the fourth-most energy productive economy in the world, the state also leads in key clean tech indicators, like clean tech patents and investment. Much of the rest of the nation is following our lead.”

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ZEV registrations have increased by 244% in two years, and in tandem with the massive uptake of solar, Next 10 believes these developments are “signalling major market disruption as clean energy technology hotspots take root across California, and not just in traditional innovation hubs.”

“California is a global leader when it comes to expanding its economy without increasing per capita emissions—this trend represents a shift from old growth models,” said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, which compiled the Index for Next 10.

Next 10-3Other highlights from the Index include:

  • California’s total state greenhouse gas emissions fell .62 percent in 2014.
  • Total solar residential installed capacity increased 65 percent in 2015, while industrial interconnected megawatts almost doubled.
  • California topped the nation in all major clean technology patent categories in 2015, registering more than five times the solar patents than the 2nd ranked state (New York), and generating over 25 percent of all energy efficiency patents in the U.S.
  • The Golden State pulled in $9.8 billion in clean tech investment in 2015, 68 percent of the U.S. total, up 35 percent from 2014.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from surface transportation decreased .8 percent between 2011 and 2015, despite a 2.2 percent increase in total vehicle registrations.
  • In 2014, California’s average monthly residential electricity bill was 20 percent lower than the U.S. average due to higher levels of energy efficiency.

“California’s increasing energy productivity and renewable energy growth are not accidents,” Perry said. “They can be tied to policies, from the landmark AB 32 climate and clean energy law to last year’s SB 350. This year’s Green Innovation Index shows how you can trace progress on clean energy and climate from innovations in California’s metro areas to policies to commitments made by governments around the world.”

The full report is available for download here (PDF).

Related: California Solar Energy – Solar Incentives, Installers, Costs


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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



  • neroden

    It must have crossed a threshold. The trendline (doubling every two years) would only predict 465% growth, not 1378% growth.

    Solar growth is now accelerating in California. Which state will be next?

    I think maybe my prediction of 100% renewable energy in the US by 2030 is *too conservative*. I bet it happens earlier.

    • Epicurus

      100% renewable energy in the US by 2030 would be fantastic.

      Hillary’s goal is considerably more conservative, isn’t it?

      • Bob_Wallace

        I don’t believe she has set a goal for 100% RE.

        Bernie’s plan is to shake his finger at coal, is it not?

        Get over your disappointment. Your guy lost. Now the task is to make sure Trump loses and loses nasty. We need not only the White House but also Congress if we want to make any real changes.

        • Frank

          I’d like to phase out free pollution. Wait! How about making the industry pay into a fund to pay for all coal related land reclamation, plant cleanup costs, fixing any storage problems for slag. Anything that the companies are supposed to pay for, but the government gets stuck with if they go out of business.

  • Peter Waegemans

    Weird. The main increase is in residential solar but it’s mainly the industrial electricity bill that’s lowered.

    • Matt

      PV drives down peak prices, no matter who installs it.
      Industrial price are closer tighten to the spot price than residential prices.

      • neroden

        Also, think about it: most industrial facilities close at night. So they can often replace nearly *all* their power usage with solar. Most people are at home with lights on at night…

        • GCO

          California’s got net metering, so homeowners certainly can offset all their energy usage with solar. I do.

          I suspect that a good chuck of the bill for facilities are demand charges, which is something solar can quickly bring down.

  • Mike Shurtleff

    “1,378%” Wow! …just wow! Nice article Josh! Thank you.

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