When you drive through the interstate of Central Utah, you are less likely to miss how much the landscape has changed there. Over 500 acres of land have become a solar farm, generating at least 800 megawatts and powering hundreds of houses in the state.
This is also the same backdrop if you happen to go to Topaz, where the farm covers a whopping 15 square kilometers of land and creates 580 megawatts. It can cover the energy needs of at least 150,000 homes, making it one of the biggest solar company scottsdale az in the United States.
These farms were nonexistent about 10 years ago, so what does this all mean? The United States is prepping to be one of the nation’s leaders in solar energy.
Growth of Solar Power in the United States
Harnessing the power of the sun to generate renewable energy for personal, commercial, and industrial reasons took some time.
In 1767, Horace de Saussure, a Swiss scientist, developed the first solar collector. But it was only in the 1830s when a man in Africa used the technology to cook food.
By 1904, several scientists discovered that many substances could help create photovoltaic effects, such as selenium and copper. A year after, Albert Einstein published a paper on photoelectricity and even won a Nobel Prize for it!
But the actual birthday of solar power in the United States could be in April 1954 when three engineers from Bell Labs developed the first silicon photovoltaic cell, which could store enough energy to power a piece of equipment.
And the massive growth of solar took place over the recent 20 years. According to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the installed solar capacity in 2006 was a measly 129.4 megawatts of direct current (MWdc).
In 2010, however, it increased to 667.4. By 2020, the solar capacity for residences rose to over 19,000 MWdc—that’s nearly 30 times more than what solar power could provide about 10 years ago.
In Utah, the growing number of solar power providers in Salt Lake City and other key metros has now made the state one of the leading users of this green energy in the country. In fact, it is among the top 15.
Based on state data, solar power has already supported over 415,000 homes even if the capacity still accounts for less than 10 percent of the electricity source. The number of installations is about 47,000, while the solar industry in the state employs nearly 7,000 people.
What’s driving the growth of solar, especially in the United States? It’s a combination of many factors:
- The United States wants to be committed to delaying the progress of climate change by reducing carbon footprint. According to Statista, the country’s investment in green energy reached $59 billion in 2019 compared to only $6 billion in 2004. President Joe Biden, on the other hand, dedicates $2.5 trillion to build infrastructure.
- The demand for solar power has gone up, partly driving the costs down. In Utah, the prices have already fallen by at least 45 percent in just five years.
- Federal and state tax incentives remain available. Under the federal solar tax credit, Utah homes can reduce their tax liability by 30 percent based on their solar investment. In Utah, installing a solar panel will make the residents eligible for a credit on their income taxes the following year. They can claim 25 percent of the costs of installation and equipment or up to $1,600.
What’s the Future of Solar?
The future of solar looks bright (no pun intended), especially since it continues to evolve, including being designed to be suitable for cryptography.
Power Ledger is a good example. The company based in Australia uses blockchain technology to validate the buying and selling of green energy, such as solar, among its members. As a decentralized network, it removes middlemen, so the costs of electricity consumption are low, and users can maximize their power grid.
Meanwhile, in a report by the SEIA, the solar market could likely increase by four times from its current levels by 2030. The two-year extension of credits may boost the deployment of solar panels by over 15 percent from 2021 to 2025.
As for Utah, the state may see more solar farms in the future as long as land becomes more affordable. As the number of solar panels increases, the energy costs will further go down. The residential solar power installation will be more affordable. These projects will fund several state programs that may include infrastructure and social services.
The road to solar growth in the United States won’t be easy, though, as the market becomes more regulated. Nevertheless, it seems this is unlikely to take a few steps back. As the world gears towards a healthier planet, solar energy will remain a well-supported idea.