Solar energy use has grown over the years to become a major source of electricity and energy in the globe. The growth of solar in the United States has also been significant due to some factors including low equipment costs, considerable government support and global warming.
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In the recent years the cost of installing solar power equipment has gone down considerably contributing to an unprecedented growth that now stands at a mean of 36% per year (Truini, 2007). The cost of solar equipment such as photovoltaic solar system has been dropping owing to government subsidies offered to businesses which invest in the sector with the US government offering tax credits.
The US government’s concerns on global warming and climate change are another added incentive for investment in renewable and clean energy such as solar power. Initiatives such as the feed in tariff has seen the cost of solar power go down as electricity companies are urged to buy renewable energy and sell the same energy at cheap fixed rates (Glaser, 2001).
The growth of solar power in the USA is expected to grow from the current installed capacity of 1.44 GW (Gigawatts) to around 40 GW in the year 2020. This will be able to attract investment of over $ 300 Billion and employ 400,000 people to work in the solar energy sector. Growth of solar will be expected to contribute about 8% of USA’s energy by the year 2020; solar energy has seen growth from 785MW in the year 2002 to current capacity of 1.4 GW (Conway, 2002).
Most of the solar growth will be experienced in California where the climate favors the installation of solar powered stations and currently California contributes 53% to the national solar grid. The increase in price for fossils fuels such as oil has contributed to development of innovations in the solar sector to increase in solar uptake and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Global Solar Growth
The solar uptake in the globe has witnessed tremendous growth over the last decade; much of the growth has been attributed to increased energy demand. USA still lags behind other countries in solar energy uptake especially countries based in Europe. European countries such as Germany, Italy has seen growth in purchasing photovoltaic solar systems in the recent years with both contributing to around 50% of installed capacity in 2008 (Glaser, 2001).
Germany is currently the biggest solar producer in the world with installed capacity of around 8GW; it is followed by Japan and Spain. However statistics show that the USA is currently the third largest solar producer. Consequently world solar growth is expected to grow at a level of 40% annually with most of the growth emanating from southern Europe.
Countries such as Spain experienced a growth of 2.8GW into its solar energy grid and countries such as Italy, France and India planning to invest considerable amounts of money in solar growth. India plans to achieve 20GW energy generation from solar power by the year 2022, China has also expressed plans to invest in solar energy due to increased energy demands (Conway, 2002).
By 2020 global solar installation will reach levels of about 120GW with most of the demand coming from southern Europe and Asia. Production of photovoltaic systems and innovation will contribute to increased solar installations. Nevertheless the biggest contributing factor will be policies which will make solar energy more cheap and affordable, but with current policies in the USA it is expected that it will among the top ten solar energy producers by the year 2020.
Conway, E. M. (2003). Solar Energy, Technology Policy, and Institutional Values. Environmental History, 8(1), 25-32.
Glaser, P. E. (2001). A Global Perspective on Renewable and Solar Energy. The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, 19(2), 16-22.
Truini, J. (2007). Misconceptions slow solar growth, Waste News, 13(6), 4.