Alternative power growing despite Solyndra
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), installation of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels in 2011 grew by 109 percent over 2010 installations – itself a record setting year. U.S. solar power installations in 2011 alone provide a maximum capacity of 1,855 megawatts. Cumulative installed solar energy production capacity is over 4,000 megawatts in the U.S., enough to power nearly a million households. One significant contributing factor is the ongoing reduction in the production cost of the photovoltaic panels themselves. Even with this rapid growth the solar energy production in the U.S. amounts to less than one percent of all U.S. electricity production. The president of SEIA expects solar power to provide 10 percent of all energy needs by 2020. One reason for this bold expectation is that the cost of solar power has dropped 60 percent since 1995, and will continue to drop into the future.
As impressive as those numbers may sound, the wind power industry outlook is even stronger. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), 2011 saw the addition of 6,810 megawatts of additional capacity – more than the entire solar capacity installed to date. Cumulative wind power generation capacity in the U.S. totals 46,919 megawatts of capacity. Currently U.S. wind power capacity is more than 20% of the world’s installed wind power. Perhaps most surprisingly, wind power has contributed 35 percent of all new electricity production in the United States over the last four years, surpassed only by natural gas.
As solar power and wind power capacity expands, more equipment will be required to meet this demand. These industries’ growth could provide some of the fuel to drive the economy forward as additional jobs are created to meet these equipment demands. Granted, we will see the occasional mis-step as progress is made in these ever changing technological areas. But at the end of the day, if we takes two steps forward and one step back, the net of it is that we gained a step. How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Source: USA Today