Buried at the very bottom of a fact sheet released at yesterday’s White House Solar Summit is a striking statistic: “Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar, supporting workers whose jobs can’t be outsourced.” Since President Obama was first elected in 2008, installed solar power capacity in the United States has risen rapidly from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) to an estimated 13 GW in 2014 — a nearly eleven fold increase, which is enough renewable electricity to power more than 2.2 million American homes. At the summit, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $15 million program to help state, local and tribal governments build solar panels to continue the solar boom in the U.S.
Image via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
“We need leaders like you in the coming weeks and months to deploy solar power in your communities,” said White House Counselor John Podesta to an audience of government, energy and business leaders. “If you do we can curb the dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that are damaging our climate, we can make our communities more resilient against severe weather, we can bring clean affordable energy to American homes and businesses, and we can create jobs and create opportunities for American workers.”
Other initiatives announced at the summit include supporting solar at federally-assisted housing, doubling renewable energy at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency partner agencies, advancing renewable energy in rural communities and accelerating deployment of solar energy at federal agencies and military installations.
The falling price of solar photovoltaic systems was the main driver of an increase in global renewable energy generation in 2013, and as solar becomes ever cheaper, U.S. policy is positioning America as a world leader in solar deployment and jobs.