One Million Solar Energy Systems Now Turned On in US

May 2, 2016 | 3:50 pm
Mike Jacobs
Senior Energy Analyst

Around the country, solar advocates are cheering. One million solar installations (including nearly 950,000 rooftops) are now turned on somewhere in the US, a symbolic milestone signaling a fundamental change in the energy landscape.

What are the implications of all this?

Let’s look at some of the answers.

1. Solar is happening everywhere, thanks to falling prices and decent sunshine. That means we need the grid to bring solar to anyone.

2. More than half the states will soon have rooftop solar cheaper than the utility-delivered price of electricity, and that means everybody needs to get smart about what is coming.

3. The sun shines on everyone, and that means more opportunities for financing and ownership options to allow town governments, multi-family buildings, and renters to gain the benefits.

4. Solar is the cheapest new supply when the sun is up, and that means signaling to water heaters, vehicle chargers, air conditioners with ice-storage that the best time to use energy is going to be when the solar panels are producing energy.

5. Solar energy is growing at exponential rates. We will want to use it after sunset, and that means energy storage.

So, where do you get your solar energy?

There’s a strong and growing chance that solar is a small part of your electric utility mix. In some places, that is a sizable portion of the mix, from rooftop systems and large-scale solar gardens and farms. With 940,00 of the first million on home rooftops, these energy supplies may well be in your neighborhood.

We are one million strong, and growing. Cheers for the first million who get, and give from their solar panels.

Featured photo: Solar Energy Industries Association

About the author

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Mike Jacobs is leading the Union of Concerned Scientists’s work on electricity markets and regulatory reform. He develops proposals in an effort to shape federal, regional and state electricity markets, regulation and policies to encourage the expansion of renewable energy resources and the reduction of coal-fired generation.