On January 24, 1848 – 166 years ago today – a discovery was made at a place called Sutter’s Sawmill that would change the course of California and even American history. Gold was discovered near the old sawmill, setting off the California gold rush.
It’s ironic – or perhaps even prophetic – that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) was founded on the very same day in 1974. Why? Because today, there’s a stampede to solar taking place!
Did you know that solar energy in the United States is now generating enough electricity to power 2 million American homes, including the White House? Or that the payback on installing a home heating and cooling system (SHC) can be as little as four years? Would you be surprised to learn that leading blue chip companies like Walmart, Apple, Costco, Kohl’s and IKEA are saving big bucks by installing rooftop solar? Or that just one utility scale solar facility can power 170,000 homes?
Here are some other cool facts:
- Solar electricity generation has increased 10 fold since President Obama first took office and is now the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America.
- More than 400,000 homes and businesses now have solar electric systems. Over half of those systems were installed in the past 2 years alone.
- A solar panel was installed every 2 seconds in the U.S. last year. A solar project was completed every 4 minutes.
- 28 percent of all new electricity generation capacity installed in the U.S. last year came from solar energy, second only to natural gas.
- In Hawaii, 1 in 10 single-family homes now has a photovoltaic (PV) system to help save families money.
- If you shopped at Walmart today, there is a 1 in 20 chance you had solar panels above your head. If you’ve been to an IKEA recently, there is a 9 in 10 chance there were solar panels over your head.
Educating Americans about the benefits of clean, reliable and affordable solar energy is at the heart of a new social media campaign, America Supports Solar, which was launched today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in conjunction with National “Shout Out For Solar” Day and SEIA’s 40thanniversary as a national trade association. Moving forward, SEIA plans to use this platform as a way to showcase the industry’s innovations, continued growth and successes.
Supported by both leading businesses and environmental groups – including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund and the Climate Group – hundreds of thousands of people from across the United States and around the world are expected to take part in today’s “Shout Out For Solar” Day and roll out of the America Supports Solar website, which highlights solar energy’s extraordinary popularity and explosive growth across the United States. When all of the figures are in for 2013, solar – for the first time since the late 1980’s – is expected to account for more new electric capacity in the U.S. than any other source of renewable energy.
Clearly, this is a banner day for solar energy in America. Today’s events, including the launch of our America Supports Solar website, captures that excitement in a big way. In recent years, our industry has created tens of thousands of new American jobs, pumped billions of dollars into the U.S. economy and helped to reduce pollution. We’re a true American success story.
Today, there are nearly 120,000 workers employed by the U.S. solar industry at more than 6,000 companies nationwide – and those numbers are expected to go up significantly!
What’s more, while 2013 was a record-breaking year, 2014 may be even better with 30 percent growth being forecast. Part of this unprecedented growth is due to the fact that the average price of a solar system has dropped by more than 50 percent since 2010, benefitting consumers, businesses, schools and government entities.
In 2006, there were less than 600 megawatts of grid-connected solar in the United States. Right now, there’s an estimated 13,000 megawatts. Today, through an outpouring of support on social media, Americans nationwide are ‘shouting out’ this success story on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, proving that the real power of solar is the millions of people who support it.