U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Study: Solar Power Could Provide 10% of U.S. Electricity by 2025
June 25, 2008
Solar energy currently provides less than 0.1% of the electricity
generated in the United States, but a new report finds that solar
power's contribution could grow to 10% of the nation's power needs by
2025. The report, prepared by research and publishing firm Clean Edge
and the nonprofit Co-op America, projects nearly 2% of the nation's
electricity coming from concentrating solar power systems, while solar
photovoltaic systems will provide more than 8% of the nation's
electricity. Those figures correlate to nearly 50,000 megawatts of
solar photovoltaic systems and more than 6,600 megawatts of
concentrating solar power.
As noted in the report, solar power has been expanding rapidly in the
past 8 years, growing at an average pace of 40% per year. The cost per
kilowatt-hour of solar photovoltaic systems has also been dropping,
while electricity generated from fossil fuels is becoming more
expensive. As a result, the report projects that solar power will
reach cost parity with conventional power sources in many U.S. markets
by 2015. But to reach the 10% goal, solar photovoltaic companies will
also need to streamline installations and make solar power a "plug-and-play" technology, that is, it must be simple and straightforward
to buy the components of the system, connect them together, and
connect the system to the power grid.
The report also places some of the responsibility with electric
utilities, which will need to take advantage of the benefits of solar
power, incorporate it into future "smart grid" technologies, and
create new business models for building solar power capacity. The
report also calls for establishing long-term extensions of today's
investment and production tax credits, creating open standards for
connecting solar power systems to the grid, and giving utilities the
ability to include solar power in their rate base. See the
Clean Edge press release and the full report (PDF 896 KB).
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