Surging Growth Makes U.S. Solar ‘The New Shale’: Analyst
Solar will be the United States’ largest source of new electricity generating capacity next year, prompting one analyst to enthuse that “solar is the new shale.”
U.S. solar capacity “has jumped 20-fold since 2008 as companies including Apple Inc. use it to reduce their carbon footprints,” Bloomberg reports. “Rooftop panels are sprouting on homes from suburban New York to Phoenix, driven by suppliers such as SolarCity Corp. and NRG Energy Inc.”
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
Wood Mackenzie analyst Michael Blaha commented last month that “shale has lowered cost and enabled lower natural gas prices. Solar will lower costs for electricity.”
Although solar still accounts for less than 1% of total generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “solar capacity surged 30% in 2014 to more than 20 gigawatts and will more than double by the end of 2016,” Malik writes, citing the Solar Energy Industries Association. “That’s enough to power 7.6 million U.S. homes,” up from 360,000 in 2009.
“I was here before we broke ground, and seeing it then and now amazes me at how quickly we were able to build the project and coexist with the environment and generate 550 megawatts of green power,” said Gary Hood, project manager for Berkshire Hathaway’s Topaz solar farm in California, the world’s largest. Malik reviews the utility finance issues that are cropping up as consumers begin producing their own power, as well as the downward pressure renewable power exerts on wholesale electricity rates.