The United States will install at least 2,500 MW of solar power this year, the same amount that was added in the entire first decade of the 21st century.
Part of the reason for this startling expansion of solar energy is the rapid expansion of relatively low-cost solar panels made abroad. China supplied nearly half the world’s solar panels last year, up from one-fifth in 2008, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
The price gap between solar and conventional power sources is narrowing. In the late 1970s, solar panels cost about $15 per watt, or roughly $50 in current dollars, according to the SEIA. Today, the cost is about 84 cents per watt, still higher than conventional sources but gaining ground on them.
The solar array at our HQ has now produced 14 MWh since beginning operations in late January 2010. And solar produces power at on-peak times when it is most valuable. This is considerably better than wind generators, which produce more power in less valuable off-peak times.
We are proud of our investments in wind and solar. We did not need a government mandate to make these investments. We believe these clean energy sources, combined with energy efficiency, will play a growing role in ensuring reliable and affordable power to consumers in the future.