Page last updated 3/10/2016

One Megawatt (MW) of Solar is enough to power 162 homes.
Photo of highway solar array
Highway Solar Array in Oregon. Photo used by permission of Gary Braasch.
Solar is now so cheap that global adoption appears unstoppable.
  • In 2013 Palo Alto, California, purchased solar PV power for 6.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Costs have gone down. So in Spring 2016, Palo Alto purchased solar PV for 3.7 cents/kWh. At 6.455 cents/kWh for power from Colstrip, Montana cannot compete if it does not adapt.

    • Californians installed 4.3 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic electric generation in 2014. That’s a whole lot more than the 2.3 gigawatts of existing coal-fired generation at Colstrip.

    The Earth Policy Institute notes:

    • “The price of solar photovoltaic panels has declined 99 percent over the last four decades, from $74 a watt in 1972 to less than 70 cents a watt in 2014.

    • “Between 2009 and 2014, solar panel prices dropped by three fourths, helping global PV installations grow 50 percent per year.

    • “Deutsche Bank notes that as of early 2014, solar PV was already competitive with average residential, commercial or industrial electricity rates in 14 countries, and in California – even without subsidies.

    • “By late 2014 there were nearly 600,000 individual PV systems in the United States, almost twice as many as in 2012. This number may well pass 1 million in 2016.

    • Picture of Rooftop solar in California
      Rooftop solar in California. Photo used by permission of Gary Braasch.

      “In 2013, just 12 percent of U.S homebuilders offered solar panels as an option for new single-family homes. More than half of them anticipate doing so by 2016. Four of the top five U.S. home construction firms – DR Horton, Lennar Corp, PulteGroup and KB Home – now automatically include solar panels on every new house in certain markets.

    • “In 2007 there were only 8,000 rooftop solar installations in coal-heavy Australia; now there are over a million.

    • “Saudi Arabia has 41,000 megawatts of solar PV operating, under construction and planned – enough to generate up to two thirds of the country’s electricity.

    • “For the roughly 1.3 billion people without access to electricity, it is now often cheaper and more efficient simply to install solar panels rooftop-by-rooftop than to build a central power plant and transmission infrastructure.”

    For more on this topic see The Solar Revolution chapter in “The Great Transition.”

    Incredibly, across the world, solar PV saw a dramatic gain from 3.7 GW in 2004 to 178 GW in 2014. In 2014 alone, it went up by 40 GW.

    Solar Photovoltaic Panels in Renewed New Orleans Neighborhood. Photo used by permission of Gary Braasch.
    Solar Photovoltaic Panels in Renewed 9th Ward, New Orleans Neighborhood. Photo used by permission of Gary Braasch.

    Click here for link to US Department of Energy Solar Energy Progress Portal.

    Photo of Solar 1 power plant in Nevada
    75 MW Solar 1 Electric Generating Plant in Nevada. Please click on the photo to show that you will welcome the opportunity to sign the 80% renewable electricity by 2050 petition paper version. Photo used by permission of ary Braasch.

Home of Montana (MT) Community Affordable Renewable Energy Saves; Paid for by MTcares, Inc., Pam Ellis, Treasurer, Billings MT 59105