The Future is Bright for Solar Energy in the US
2015 was a brilliant year for the US solar market. The fourth quarter is expected to have been the best quarter for solar installations in American history. By the end of 2016, it’s believed the US will have a total of 41 gigawatts worth of solar photovoltaic panels installed across the nation. The market will continue to go from strength to strength in the year ahead, as domestic and international factors combine to make the uptake of solar and other renewable energy technologies ever more attractive to policymakers and consumers.
COP21: A global turning point
At the Paris climate conference in December, 195 countries, including the US, adopted the first ever universal and legally binding global climate deal, which will come into force in 2020, with the goal of limiting the worldwide average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This means global emissions need to peak soon and then reduce rapidly. For the time being, the US government is committed to implementing this agreement and making a head-start on replacing fossil fuel power plants with renewable energy sources, bolstering demand with tax credits and loans for the solar and wind industries. This follows two consecutive record breaking years for global temperatures, and the UK Met Office is already predicting that 2016 will be warmer still.
A land of solar giants
The last few years have seen the opening of some impressive solar projects in the US. In February, the world’s largest solar power plant was opened in the Californian desert near Joshua Tree National Park, generating enough electricity to power 160,000 homes. In late 2014, the same company opened the 550 megawatt Topaz project, with 9 million solar panels covering 9.5 square miles in San Luis Obispo County. Another huge facility in California, Solar Star, went online in Los Angeles County in June 2015. Unsurprisingly, California has installed more renewable energy generators than any other state. While it is not necessary to have an extremely sunny climate for solar panels to work (in fact, high temperatures actually make them less efficient), the US has plenty of suitable land for more solar power plants, and there’s almost no limit to how much of America’s energy needs solar could supply.
A changing world
It’s predicted that renewable energy will generate at least a quarter of the world’s electricity by the year 2020. The Paris Agreement merely adds impetus to this transformation. Every developing and developed country will have to invest more in renewable energy in order to meet the ambitious targets agreed by world leaders. This means that wherever you are, there has never been a better time to work in the renewables sector. For renewable energy opportunities around the world, visit our TRS Staffing jobs page.