The US continues to see an explosion in solar growth, installing more that 2 gigawatts (GWs) of solar in the third quarter of the year. Meanwhile an increasing body of evidence proves that renewable energy is lowering emissions compared to other energy sources.
For the 8th straight quarter the US has installed more than 2 GWs of solar power. It’s an unprecedented buildout for the technology across all segments, including residential, commercial and utility. That’s according to The US Solar Market Insight Report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Despite the still impressive overall levels it represents a significant, but expected, reduction in new installations.
The reduction in new installations was expected because many utility-scale installations were planned to begin construction before the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was slated for expiration. The report attributed the drop off to that and tighter markets for solar panels across the world.
Last week two reports also showed that solar power and other forms of renewable energy are better for the environment than other forms of electric generation, hopefully helping to dispel myths that they’re not. An international study led by the Potsdam Institute found that solar and wind power have lower lifecycle emissions than other forms of energy generation.
In the past critics have contended that the energy and resources put into making wind and solar power, as well as the peaker power plants needed to generate electricity when the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing, meant they had higher lifecycle emissions than fossil fuel-based power plants with carbon capture sequestration (CCS) like coal, biomass and gas. The study found the fossil-fuel generators produce 100 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity produced. But solar and wind power’s lifecycle emissions are only 10 grams of CO2 per kWh.
On a more localized level an EDF study showed that homeowners participating in Austin’s Pecan Street Inc. project with solar power and electric vehicles were able to dramatically reduce their water use and emissions. The study found rooftop solar power reduced a home’s greenhouse gas emissions and water use by a combined 75 percent. The report included water use used in the production of conventional grid-sourced electricity in the region, which relies on coal and natural gas. The report further found that EVs can avoid up to 70 percent of CO2 emissions and 60 percent of water consumption compared to the vehicle they were replacing.
Speaking of vehicles, petroleum giant BP got back into the solar business last week. The company announced it is investing $200 million in the United Kingdom’s largest solar developer, Lightsource. The company formerly owned photovoltaic manufacturer Solarex, but closed it in 2011. This time it’s investing on the project development side rather than the manufacturing side of the industry.Tweet