Solar energy is expanding rapidly across the United States – increasing more than 100-fold over the past decade. But, there are still many untapped opportunities to harness the nation’s nearly limitless solar potential. The United States has the technical potential to produce more than 100 times as much electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) installations as the nation consumes each year. Given our abundant solar resources, America must take advantage of untapped opportunities to install solar technologies – like using rooftops of large superstores and “big box” retail stores as hosts for clean electricity generation.
Solar power is on the rise – nationally, installed solar capacity grew by 30% in 2014 alone. Environment Oregon is currently working to pass five-year solar installation targets in five cities (Eugene, Ashland, Corvallis, Lake Oswego, and Milwaukie) and the commensurate policies to aid in meeting these targets. So far, over 90 local businesses and hundreds of local residents have endorsed bold solar targets in their cities.
Solar targets proposed by Environment Oregon represent a combined 245% increase in solar power in the cities over five years, or the equivalent of more than 3,000 residential solar rooftops (city-specific data below). If Oregon increased installed solar capacity at the same rate, it would be the equivalent of 28,000 new solar rooftops statewide in the next five years.
As a result of global warming, young Americans today are growing up in a different climate than their parents and grandparents experienced. It is warmer than it used to be. Storms pack more of a punch. Rising seas increasingly flood low-lying land. Large wildfires have grown bigger, more frequent and more expensive to control. People are noticing changes in their own backyards, no matter where they live.
Pollution from burning coal, oil and gas is the primary cause of global warming. Without urgent action to reduce global warming pollution, children born today will grow up in a more dangerous world.
We can protect our children from the most harmful impacts of global warming by reducing carbon pollution and shifting to cleaner sources of energy. The United States has a critical window of opportunity to lead the world in this effort.
The use of solar power is expanding rapidly across the United States. By the end of 2014, the United States had 20,500 megawatts (MW) of cumulative solar electric capacity, enough to power four million average U.S. homes. This success is the outcome of federal, state and local programs that are working in concert to make solar power accessible to more Americans, thereby cleaning our air, protecting our health, and hedging against volatile electricity prices.
Environment Oregon Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.