In the 70’s and 80’s, the USA was a world leader in renewable energy; a position it lost due to its pursuit of fossil fuels. The nation’s Recovery Act investments are helping the U.S. along the path to regaining its solar power crown.
While solar energy sources in the country generates less than one percent of the nation’s electricity currently, Recovery Act investments have seen more money going into solar power in the last three years than in the previous three decades.
According to a recently released U.S. Government report, the cost of solar power could attain parity with fossil fuel based electricity generation in many states as early as 2015, thanks to deployment and research and development programs working towards the goal of bringing down the cost of solar by half over the next five years.
The report states if breakthroughs in technology can bring costs down to USD $0.06/kWh by 2030, solar power will be cheaper than retail electricity from the grid, even without government incentives.
The Obama Administration’s goals are to double renewable energy capacity from the 28.8 gigawatts (GW) of solar, wind and geothermal generation installed in the U.S. as of the end of 2008 to 57.6 GW by the end of 2011. This would be enough capacity to supply the electricity needs of 16.7 million homes. The Administration also has a goal to double U.S based renewable energy manufacturing capacity from an annual output of 6 GW of components such as wind turbines and solar panels at the end of 2008, to 12 GW by the end of next year.