If California were a country, it would be one of only six places worldwide that has a gigawatt of solar installed.
The Environment California Research & Policy Center recently released a new report documenting that California’s innovative Million Solar Roofs Initiative, halfway through its legislatively mandated timeline, is on pace to meet its goal of installing 3 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2016.
The report was released just as California hit 1 gigawatt of rooftop solar power across the state, a level only five countries can claim.
Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center and co-author of the report, “Building a Brighter Future: California’s Progress Toward a Million Solar Roofs,” said, “All signs point to a bright future for solar power in California, meaning cleaner air, cleaner energy, and more jobs.”
The 2006 Million Solar Roofs Bill created the 10-year, statewide effort, now called the Go Solar California campaign.
Of the total 1,000 megawatts of rooftop solar photovoltaic installed statewide, a record 205 megawatts was installed in 2011 alone. At that pace, the state is on track to meet its goal of 3,000 megawatts of rooftop solar by 2016.
Other findings in the report show that California’s solar market has been expanding by about 40 percent per year. Even at a slightly slower growth rate of 25 percent per year, the state will achieve the 3 gigawatts goal by the end of 2016.
California is also home to about 20 percent of all solar power companies in the United States, with more than 3,500 firms. These firms employ more than 25,000 people. The industry has roughly doubled in size since 2007.
The report said that the cost declines were made possible in part by dramatic declines in the retail cost of solar panels, as well as many other significant improvements throughout the global solar value chain.
The Solar Foundation's 2011 National Solar Jobs Census Report, there are more than 3,500 active solar firms in California, employing more than 25,000 people.
At least one bright spot remains, even if national energy policy is uncertain at best.
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