According to the latest reports from the US, the country had a record breaking year for its generation of energy by solar power in 2015, exceeding previous years and showing that the industry is booming in the country.
Solar developers added a record amount of 7.3 gigawatts of capacity to the country in 2015, an increase of 17% on the previous year. It also saw solar surpassing natural gas installations for the first time. This is largely due to the increase in residential installations which rose by two-thirds in the year, the largest segment. Houses with solar power now account for 29% of all of the photovoltaic systems around the country, according to a report released by the Washington-based Solar Energy Industries Association.
In terms of the individual states, California, North Carolina and Nevada once again topped the list of the most solar producing countries. Utah was one state that had a massive gain, moving from 23rd in the list right up to 7th however New Jersey saw a fall from 6th down to 10th.
This increase shows that the US has a passion for clean energy sources as well as a clear ambition to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The total solar installations around the country now exceed 25 gigawatts and is already equivalent to around one quarter of the nuclear installations. It also shows their determination, as five years ago, the total installations stood at just two gigawatts.
Another helpful part of the solar boom is the continuation of tax credits for solar companies that was confirmed by lawmakers in December. The original deal was set to end in 2016 but the agreement will see it continue for another five years. The deal currently pays 30% of the costs of installation though this will gradually decease. It also pays a subsidy for energy generated, currently around 2.3 cents per kilowatts hour though this too will drop over the next four years.
The extension of the tax credit will likely see a boom in solar continue, with some $125 billion in new investments expected. The supply chain is already anticipating this increase, with companies who build the solar systems increasing their production and with it, their worth. SolarCityCorp, one of the biggest rooftop installers, has seen a 34% increase in shares in the last three years while SunEdison Inc., the largest renewable energy developer, saw a 25% increase.
All this shows that with the right investment and the right systems in place, the solar industry can continue to grow and take an ever larger percent of the energy market. With the new agreements coming from the recent Paris climate deal, the US is moving into a strong position to fulfil what it agreed and continue the change from fossil fuels to renewables.
It also reflects that the people too want to do their part and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. With solar power now more competitive than gas, the change looks set to continue.