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The future of solar energy in the U.S. looks bright.

Although solar currently only provides about one percent of our electricity, Chris Namovicz of the U.S. Energy Information Administration says the market for new solar has grown …

Namovicz: “… from essentially a minimal to nonexistent market five or ten years ago, to what is now – many thousands of megawatts per year.”

Solar was installed at a record pace in 2016. In just that year, more utility-scale solar was added than in all the years before 2013 combined.

In 2016, more utility-scale solar was added than in all the years before 2013 combined. Click To Tweet

Namovicz says falling solar prices helped drive the growth, but there were other factors

Namovicz: “Among them are federal subsidies or incentives, primarily in the form of tax credits. There are also state-level policies that encourage renewables.”

Namovicz says the federal tax support for solar will be phased out over the next few years and low natural gas prices make it harder for solar to compete.

Namovicz: “In the near term, we see that there will be some tradeoff between solar and wind and natural gas, mostly related to the timing of the various tax credits that both wind and solar receive, and the changes in natural gas prices.”

But in the long-term, he predicts a sunny market.

Namovicz: “In the five- to ten-, twenty-year range, we see a pretty robust market for solar capacity growth.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

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