Solar Power Could Reach
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Solar power is quickly becoming a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel-based energy sources, and in less than a decade may cost the same as retail electricity rates across the U.S., according to a new report from Clean Edge and Co-op America.
The groups' Utility Solar Assessment (USA) Study, offers a way for utilities, solar companies and regulators to bring solar power to 10 percent of the total domestic energy supply by 2025.
Utilities are necessarily going to play a major role in bringing about the rise of solar power, whom the report's authors, Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, urge to harness the many benefits that solar power offers, not least of which is its ability to generate high levels of electricity at the same peak hours that the electrical grid gets overwhelmed.
"One of the big takeaways from this report is that, in many ways, the future of solar is in the hands of utilities," said Pernick, Clean Edge cofounder and managing director and USA Study coauthor. "Reaching 10 percent of our electricity from solar sources by 2025 will require the active participation of utilities along with the support and participation of regulators and solar technology companies."
Among the ways solar companies can get involved is to streamline the solar installation process, making the technologies truly plug-and-play; for policymakers, Pernick and Wilder urge them to pass a long-term extension for tax credits on solar and other renewable energy installations.
Even with those steps forward, bringing solar power up to speed will not be cheap: the report estimates that between now and 2025, between $450 and $560 billion will need to be invested in growing solar energy, or more than $25 billion per year. That number, large though it may be, is not insurmountable: in 2007 alone, utilities spent around $70 billion on new power plants and T&D systems, according to the report.
The Utility Solar Assessment Study is available for download from CleanEdge.com and SolarCatalyst.org.
(Disclosure: Clean Edge as co-founded by GreenBiz.com Executive Editor Joel Makower.)
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