It was a big week for the solar industry that saw a number of milestones around growth and political support. The bipartisan lobbying for solar and wind, solar’s overthrow of the coal industry and a new 100% renewable goal for California has solar stakeholders buzzing in this week’s Solar News Report.
Golden State sets target for all-renewable future
For the United States’ top state for solar, it appears that the path forward will be more of the same. This week, California’s legislature proposed a bullish new Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that has the clean energy industry talking.
RPS is a state-specific target set for utilities that regulates how much of their energy must be sourced from clean sources of power. Before this latest proposal, California’s RPS was to reach 50 percent renewable generation by 2030. While its previous goal was already a bold number compared to most other states in the nation, lawmakers are now proposing to reach 50 percent renewables by 2025 and 100 percent by 2045.
Hawaii is the only state that has an established goal of running entirely on renewable energy, and California is one of two states (alongside Massachusetts) to propose an RPS of 100 percent in 2017. An aggressive stance towards promoting renewables will be necessary for the state to maintain its hold on the #1 spot for installed solar in the country.
Republicans urge Trump to pursue solar and wind
Though the concept of environmentalism hasn’t historically been a bipartisan issue, it’s becoming more and more clear that renewable energy solutions are supported by both political parties. Solar and wind have continued to demonstrate impressive numbers in terms of overall growth and job creation, and GOP representatives have taken notice.
A group of 20 governors submitted an official notice to the White House on Monday asking the Trump administration to reconsider focusing energy policy around solar and wind, and they have substantial backing from their constituents. Trump enjoys major support from rural property owners in the U.S., who also earn $245 million every year from leasing land to wind developers. The solar industry is equally appealing in red states – it’s growing at 17 times the rate of the U.S. economy and employed 200,000 people last year with installation projects primarily on rural lands.
New report reveals solar growth is double the rate of coal
Solar continued on its record-breaking trend this week with GTM Research and SEIA’s new report, which revealed a number of new milestones for the solar industry:
- The solar industry as a whole witnessed 95 percent year-over-year growth in 2016
- For the first time in history, solar offered the most new electricity capacity of any energy source
- The U.S. has already achieved 1.3 million solar installations after only just hitting 1 million installations in fall of 2016
- The solar industry now employs more than twice as many people as the coal industry
Florida witnessing major solar growth
Florida’s recent uptick in solar activity installations has many are wondering how the Sunshine State is suddenly living up to its nickname. The southeast state had a close call in November when voters barely rejected an amendment that would have significantly restricted Florida’s solar industry thanks to a misinformation campaign by local utilities. Now, it appears that the outcome of the amendment effort has had the inverse effect – the major coverage of the political battle around Florida’s solar industry brought major attention to solar in the state, piquing the interest of local consumers.
Some 1,600 jobs were added in Florida in 2016 thanks to solar, and key stakeholders are forecasting 200 percent growth in the state for 2017. It’s no surprise that SolarCity, America’s top solar contractor, opened operations in Florida at the end of 2016. “It’s just a strong signal that the market is here for Florida. I mean, this is really the big year for Florida,” said Scott Thomasson, Program Director for Vote Solar.