Solar industry celebrates 1 million solar systems installed in the US

By Jodi Delapaz

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WASHINGTON, May 12, 2016 - The solar industry recently launched the #MillionSolarStrong campaign to celebrate the now more than 1 million solar systems installed in the U.S. Together, these systems supply enough electricity to power the entire state of Pennsylvania, says the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

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The campaign quickly gained widespread backing with more than 70 organizations signing a declaration in support of making solar a bigger portion of America's energy portfolio. The signees include some of the nation's largest solar companies, as well as the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, the Climate Reality Project, Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Electrical Contractors Association and the National Roofing Contractors Association.

“American leaders, entrepreneurs and organizations across the country have come together to publicly recognize solar as part of the mainstream energy discussion, and that's not something that can be easily ignored,” says Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “While it took us 40 years to hit 1 million U.S. solar installations, we're expected to hit 2 million within the next two years. Solar energy isn't just here to stay, it's rapidly growing because of the hardworking American families who have made it clear they want access to clean, affordable, reliable electricity.”

report issued by SEIA and George Washington Solar Institute, timed with the launch of the campaign, says solar accounted for almost 30 percent of new capacity in 2015. The report states that a combination of factors has allowed solar to scale from just 1,000 installations in 2001 to over a million today, including:

  • Installation costs dropping by more than 70 percent over the past decade, mostly due to panel efficiency improvements that made systems 66 percent cheaper compared to five years prior.
  • The predictability of a long-term, 30 percent federal investment tax credit enacted in 2008 and extended in 2015 through 2021.
  • State policies like net-metering and renewable portfolio standards that have allowed solar to break into markets and thrive.
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    The report notes that solar jobs have grown by 123 percent in the past five years. There are now 209,000 Americans working in solar jobs, and that number is expected to double to 420,000 by 2021, says SEIA.

    The 1 million installations generate enough electricity to power more than 5.9 million homes, SEIA says. With continued growth in solar, SEIA estimates by 2020, the source will generate enough electricity to power 20 million homes.

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