2017 Solar Energy Trends: Solar Takes #1 Spot in New Energy Installations
More Evidence that Delay Equals Long Term Loss
The numbers are in. The facts have been verified. This is not fake news. The 2016 report released by the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) confirms that the trends in solar energy are up, more, higher, bigger, and greater. See the graph below.
2015 set a record. 2016 nearly doubled it, with 97% more solar installed last year than the year before, totaling more than 14,000 installed Megawatts.
This new energy capacity also ranked solar at the top of new energy installations by sector, above wind and natural gas, and way above coal and all the rest. 39% of new energy capacity installed last year came from solar energy.
While the majority of this new capacity was installed at the utility level (because utilities are finding solar now competes with natural gas on price as well as the obvious long term profitability and environmental benefits), residential solar also grew, with 19% more installed last year than in 2015. 22 states installed over 100 megawatts each.
In all, the U.S. now utilizes over 42 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, the equivalent of 8.3 million homes. The SEIA report expects this number to surpass 100 gigawatts within five years.
What do these solar energy trends mean for you?
It means two things:
1. Look Into Solar Today
Now is the best time to look into solar energy. Prices are falling, demand is rising. As demand picks up, supply will have to keep pace or the prices will rise again. But supply will probably be able to keep pace. The real issue is, the sooner you lock in long term energy savings, the sooner you’ll start gaining from them.
Think of it this way: In 20 years, how much money will someone who installs solar panels today have saved? Even more pertinent, how much will someone who doesn’t install them have lost? As other sources of energy get more scarce and costly, the savings from solar will only magnify.
Today, there might be just one house in your neighborhood with solar panels. In 20 years, there might be just one house without them. You don’t want to be that house. Not because of some popularity contest or to fit in. But simply because everyone else will be reaping the savings that you’ll be missing out on.
2. Tap Into the Changing Job Market
There’s a lot of talk about lost coal jobs. But not enough about solar energy gains. Former coal miners would do well to get trained for solar installation and related work rather than hoping coal makes a comeback. Right now, there are over 260,000 people employed by solar in the United States. Coal now has less than 100,000, though exact numbers seem to differ depending on where you look.
The simple truth is, solar is versatile, and fossil fuels are static.
What does that mean? It means you have to go where the fuels are. So people move to North Dakota to mine the shale, or to Alaska, or out on an oil rig. When it runs dry, or the economic winds shift and companies pull up stakes, the workers are left in the dust.
But solar can be installed anywhere. Even in Alaska. Yes, the winters are long and dark. But the summers are long and bright, with sunlight almost all day. Solar is booming even in Alaska.
Plus, there are all kinds of ways to pay for your solar power installation.
Follow the Trends – Don’t Miss Out on the Solar Energy Wave
If the 42 gigawatts now installed represents the energy usage of 8.3 million homes, then after we’ve tripled that number, as the SEIA predicts will happen by 2021, there will be enough solar capacity installed to cancel out the energy used by 25 million homes.
It’s only going to keep growing. And the cost of missing out will only become greater with each passing year.
If your housing situation is relatively stable and you expect that to continue, the long term value of solar (think 10 – 20 years) is so great there’s almost no reason not to look into it.
For farms and businesses, this is even more true because their long term existence is highly probable.
Final thought: Coal accounted for over 30% of new energy capacity installed in 2010. Less than seven years later, it’s below 1%. And solar now accounts for 39% and rising.
That’s an inverse relationship. One goes up as the other goes down. Which trend do you want to be riding, as energy costs continue to climb?