Strong Solar Growth

The Nellis Solar Power Plant located within Nellis Air Force Base, northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, occupies 140 acres, contains about 70,000 solar panels and generates 14 megawatts of solar power for the base. U.S. Air Force photo.

Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center released a new report: Lighting the Way: The Ten States that Helped Drive America’s Solar Energy Boom in 2013, showing strong solar growth across the nation including a 17 percent increase in Wisconsin in 2013. The report emphasizes that it is not availability of sunlight that makes states solar leaders, but the degree to which state and local governments have created effective public policy to help capture the virtually unlimited and pollution-free energy from the sun.

Wisconsin’s progress on solar has helped fuel a tripling of solar energy nationwide between 2011 and 2013. In 2013, solar capacity in Wisconsin grew from 14 MW to 17 MW.

“Solar energy is emerging as a go-to energy option in Wisconsin and across the country,” said Ellen Ziesenhene, campaign coordinator with Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center. “While some progress has been made, this pollution-free energy option could play a much bigger role in that helping us meet the carbon pollution reduction under the Clean Power Plan.”

Solar in the United States increased more than 120-fold in the last 10 years. In the first quarter of 2014, solar energy accounted for 74 percent of all the new electric generation capacity installed in the United States. Ten states with the most solar installed per/capita are driving 89 percent of the solar installed in the U.S, while, representing only 26 percent of the population and 20 percent of the electricity consumption.