The PV America East conference is in Philadelphia this week at a key time for the development of solar in the US
PV America East is one of the major conferences for the solar industry in the United States. It’s in town in Philadelphia this week with close to 4,000 professionals and nearly 100 exhibitors. Leaders in the industry and interested customers will all be there showing off the latest in technology, financing, and services.
Everyone is excited about the continuing drop in the cost of installing solar energy generating systems. Much of the cost reduction has come from the plummeting in the price of photovoltaic panels, which have gone down more than 75% over the past five years. This is making solar energy more and more affordable, and approaching “grid parity” the time at which the cost of solar will be equal to the cost of producing electricity from conventional, more polluting sources.
There’s also excitement about the continued rise in the amount of PV installed in the US. In 2012, the Solar Energy Industries Association reported that residential rooftop installations were up 30 percent from the previous year, and total rooftop installations, including commercial buildings, grew over 100% during this time.
Solar energy is especially beneficial when the demand for electricity is the greatest and cost of electricity is greatest. When a high level of power is called for – such as on a hot summer day when air conditioners are in use – solar and wind already out-compete coal, nuclear or natural gas, since the added cost of sending more electricity to the grid from solar panels or wind turbines is much less. This is sometimes referred to as the “merit order effect” and it has already cause savvy consumers to turn to solar power. See Bloomberg BusinessWeek “Solar Energy is Ready. The U.S. Isn’t.
And there’s good news from other countries about the success of solar providing larger and larger percentages of a country’s power demand. For example, Germany passed a notable benchmark in last year, when its solar power market met almost half of the country’s electric demand at mid-day on Saturday in May, and a third of its needs on a Friday, when industrial usage what high. Wharton School University of Pennsylvania Article “Germany proves solar energy is no mirage.” http://knowledgetoday.wharton.upenn.edu/2012/05/sunspots-germany-proves-solar-energy-is-no-mirage/
Germany, a world leader in the development of solar power, is not producing a small overall amount of solar power by any stretch of the imagination: on these very sunny two days, it produced power equal to the generating capacity of about 20 nuclear stations. See Wharton Article. These facts continue to establish that solar can play, and in places already has played, a successful role in large-scale energy production.
This all makes it a good time for the United States to get squarely behind solar. We can build our economy, provide good jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of fuel – all while improving our environment and health.
If you get the chance, check out PV America East 2013, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and please stop back again to read future posts.
Tags: cost of solar, germany leader in solar, grid parity, merit order effect, Mr. Sustainable, photovoltaic, PV America, renewable energy, solar, solar economy, solar energy in the united states, solar industry, solar jobs, sustainable energy