Solar in America is strong and getting stronger, SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch told a crowd yesterday at the United States Energy Association’s State of the Energy Industry Forum. The annual event brings together the largest trade associations in America's energy business to present their respective growth projections and policy priorities for 2016 and beyond.
“The solar energy industry is evolving rapidly,” Resch said. “It’s going to be a major part of the energy mix.”
The U.S. solar energy industry has taken decades to build its 1 percent share of the American electricity generation, but Resch told the audience to prepare for America’s solar boom.
Solar capacity will quadruple in size to nearly 100 gigawatts (GW) of total capacity by the end of 2020 from just more than 24 GW today. This incredible growth acceleration can be attributed to continued cost reductions in the industry, and smart public policy, such as the extension of the solar investment tax credit (ITC).
In fact, the U.S. solar market has grown an average of 72 percent every year since 2006 and provides more American jobs than some well-established fossil fuel sectors, such as the oil and gas extraction industry. The industry employs nearly 209,000 workers at over 8,000 companies, a 130 percent increase since 2010.
Meanwhile, prices have fallen more than 70 percent since 2006, and annual installed solar capacity has increased from less than 100 megawatts (MW) to 7.4 GW.
By 2020, solar will generate enough electricity to power 20 million homes, employ another 220,000 people in the industry and contribute $30 billion annually to the economy.
The time for solar is now, as it becomes more affordable, more efficient and touted worldwide as part of the solution to climate change. “Solar is here,” Resch said. “We’re not just renewable. We’re not just carbon free. We’re American.”