Solar Power Could Provide 10 Percent of U.S. Electricity by 2025

Rapid growth, declining costs: the future looks bright for solar energy.

| June 25, 2008

Solar Power

Today, solar power generates a minuscule amount of the nation's energy supply. But that's changing rapidly, and a new study projects that solar energy will become cost-competitive with conventional energy by 2015.


Solar energy currently provides less than 0.1 percent of the electricity generated in the United States, but a new report finds that solar power's contribution could grow to 10 percent 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 percent of the nation's electricity coming from concentrating solar power systems, while solar photovoltaic systems will provide more than 8 percent 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 eight years, growing at an average pace of 40 percent 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 percent 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.

Reprinted from EERE Network News, a free newsletter of the U.S. Department of Energy.
6/29/2013 2:27:15 PM

The more I think of it, the more I realize that vandalism would be a real issue. Idiots shoot up traffic signs.

6/29/2013 2:24:50 PM

What about locating solar panels in traffic cloverleafs, even if they also serve as retention ponds? They would just have to be elevated. Unless vandalism is an issue..

d sun
7/14/2008 2:08:07 PM

yes i think easy plug in systems is part of the next step but how about using the solar panels as a roofing material, yes a two in one roofing and solar now i would buy that. that just makes sense, rain proof plus energy. come on america you can do it.

J Brown
7/14/2008 11:10:11 AM

Why not combine local solar to power a neighborhood or area along with a bomass power plant to take care of waste disposal and produce additional power at the same time? They are used in Europe. I think local power production is the way to go. Yeah who ever came up with the idea of transmitting power across the US instead of making and using it locally was surely not looking to the future beyond lining their own pockets! Talk about a security nightmare!

Spencer Wold, Jr._1
7/12/2008 5:20:18 PM

Hi All, I would like you to consider this point of view. I believe that it will be of value and very important to generate local solar energy and to modify it's use to 12-24 volt lighting and with RV type appliances. It is insane that we generate energy in Ohio, as an example, and transmit it to somewhere else, say New Jersey or West Virginia or California or anywhere other than where it is now. Each local can generate local energy and keep it in the local area...even neighborhoods. For instance, taking the power away from the power brokers and keeping it local, block by block local, generation and usage. Cooperative local generating units that provide sufficient energy for all who want to be a part of the cooperative process. No conglomerates where CEO's and other bureaucratic chieftains receive obscene amounts of compensation and maybe?

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