Solar Getting Cheaper, But Not Equally

In January 2011, I plotted the size of state solar markets against their average installed cost and found surprisingly little correlation. When Lawrence Berkeley Labs put out its 2011 version of Tracking the Sun (IV), it was possible to update the chart, which I did in two stages.

The first chart simply overlays the 2010 average installed cost on the original chart, with arrows indicating the movement of the prices in most states (I ran out of room in the small market states). It’s almost like a rainbow rain of falling solar prices. […]

Local Solar Could Power the Mountain West Right Now, All of America in 2026

The Germans have installed over 10,000 megawatts of solar panels in the past two years, enough to power 2 million American homes (or most of Los Angeles, CA). If Americans installed local solar at the same torrid pace, we could already power most of the Mountain West, could have a 100 percent solar nation by 2026, while enriching thousands of local communities with new development and jobs.

Mapping Solar PV CLEAN Contracts in the U.S.

The price of solar is dropping fast, opening new opportunities for community-scale renewable energy across the country. But despite the improving economics and tremendously sunnier skies, the United States lags far behind Germany in installing new solar power.

The biggest difference is policy. The U.S. has two major federal incentives (a 30% tax credit and accelerated depreciation) for solar power, and a few state programs for solar power. Germany and most other developed countries use a feed-in tariff for renewable energy, a policy responsible for three-quarters of the world’s solar power capacity.