Solar power is a booming industry because the technology is getting better and better each year with no signs of slowing down. While the 2015 numbers aren’t in yet, we can talk about how it has grown over the past few years. First things first, the utility-scale sector saw a growth of 38% in 2014 compared to 2013. The residential sector bridged the 1 GW barrier for the first time and grew 51% over 2013 according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. And with over 20,000 MW of cumulative solar power capacity in the United States, that’s enough to provide energy to over 4 million average homes!
Just in 2014, nearly 645,000 homes and businesses have gone solar and every two and a half minutes, a new solar project was installed. Some statistics from SEIA state that residential costs have fallen by 45% since 2010 and utility-scale costs have dropped even more. This of course is good news for everyone because it reduces energy costs and decreases the consumption of energy from traditional resources such as coal and oil. Besides the favorable reduction in energy costs, why are homeowners and businesses switching to solar power?
The cost of solar installation has plummeted by 73% since the initiation of the Solar Investment Tax Credit. But that’s not the only reason, solar technology and manufacturing has reached a point that’s more affordable than ever before. If you take a look back at average solar prices from a decade ago, they could range anywhere between $40,000 and $50,000, but in 2013, that price was around $20,000. This price drop makes it much more affordable, which allows a homeowner to see the energy savings pay off much faster.
Plus, when you think about the general costs of home renovations and the grand scheme of things, solar panels typically come with warranties that span across many decades. This makes it a very smart investment; you’ll see energy savings each month. Compare that to installing granite countertops or new appliances during a home renovation, does that save you the same kind of money? While home improvement trends change in terms of what’s hot and trendy, a stylish look can come and go in a small matter of time but solar panels provide you with benefits for decades, regardless of the latest home design trends.
Did you know that California is the leader in cumulative solar electric capacity compared to any other state in the country? The Golden Coast is taking advantage of all that sunshine to harness the power from one of the most prominent and free resources available! In fact, many residents all over the state including those in Marin County are going solar. But, homes and businesses aren’t the only ones thinking about the beneficial technology from solar power, it could soon be something you see on roadways.
Roads Soaking In The Sun
While we are still probably years away from this idea to be implemented across every roadway, a company from Idaho is developing solar powered roads. The company, Indiegogo, is in the research and development phase of their project that would bring solar roadways to the streets. These solar powered roadways would replace traditional streets that could house solar cells to collect energy. This would provide numerous benefits because the amount of energy they have the potential to collect could end up paying for itself over time. On top of that, the energy collected could obviously be used to power a plethora of things like homes, businesses and anything else that requires energy.
The solar powered roads also have the potential of making the streets safer to navigate in almost any driving condition. For instance, we are used to painted lines on the roadways that segment lanes, and a solar powered road could use LED lights to “paint” the road lines. With this in mind, these LED road lines could be flexible in a sense that they could change road patterns or alert drivers of road hazards such as accidents or pedestrians and animals on the roadways. Additionally, the LED lines could enhance visibility at night and make it easier to see where drivers are going by lighting up the roadway. Plus, northern regions that are subjected to ice and snow covered roads could see a drastic difference in vehicle handling. The solar powered roads would keep the surface clear through heated surfaces that would prevent ice and snow accumulation.
Regardless if solar technology is being used on houses, businesses or roads, it’s the green way of preserving the Earth’s resources and is a viable way to provide us with clean energy. While it is still at the forefront of innovation, solar power tech will continue to advance to the point where we will eventually use it as our main source of power!