After years and years of unprecedented pollution in every part of our ecosystem, scientists may finally have a solution to this problem that affects not only our planet but also the quality of our own health and life in general. This answer has been in front of us for this entire time in the form of energy produced by Mother Earth. Of course, we are referring to renewable energy sources.
There are many forms of renewable energy, all originating from different natural processes like the water flow, the wind or even some more complicated terms like the geothermal energy. Perhaps the most popular one is the solar energy, especially in the US. There are several reasons for that. Let’s take a look at some facts about solar energy in the United States of America.
The most obvious advantage of solar energy is the literally zero amount of pollution it produces. The solar panels, as they are called, gather light and heat from the sun and convert it into storable and transferable energy. There are, currently, more than 4 million homes using solar energy while solar heating and cooling are also gaining popularity.
Being really simple to install, operate and maintain, solar array facilities have created a huge number of job opportunities for all types of people. A recent study has shown that there are about 174.000 people working in this specific field while another 31.000 were added in 2014 alone. A very thoughtful move of the US government is the plan to add 50.000 war veterans to the workforce by 2020. The available job offers have increased by 86% in the past 4 years while the solar energy industry, which is one of the fastest growing industries in the US at the moment, adds the huge amount of 18 billion dollars to the national economy on an annual basis. It is no surprise that 90% of the people support this unique way of producing energy.
When taking into account this enormous quantity of money we mentioned earlier, one might think that there should probably be huge progress in both expanding and improving the solar panels installations all over the country. This assumption could not be any truer. Let’s read some statistics from the past decade and compare the initial figures to the ones from last year.
In 2004, there were around 500 MW ( mega watts, 1 MW = 1 million watts ) of solar capacity installed. By 2014, this number has increased forty times, reaching 20.000 MW.
In 2004, around 15.500 homes had a solar photovoltaic system. Ten years later, we have reached 600.000.
Ten years ago, there were only 100 solar projects. Nowadays, this number has increased more than a hundredfold, and it is now 1.100.
The number of people working in solar energy facilities in 2004 was lower than 20.000 while, today, more than 174.000 people work in that professional field. The investments have also skyrocketed, reaching 71.1 billion dollars last year when the respective number back in 2004 was only 2.6 billion.
We have not given any numbers concerning the advantages of solar energy over current types of energy like petroleum but it is more than enough to end our article with one piece of data that is a wish, a goal and an obligation to our planet at the same time.
If the usage of solar energy continues to expand with the current rate, then, by the end of 2016, solar energy will have negated nearly 45 million metric tons of harmful carbon emissions. This is like retiring around 10 million cars from the American road network. The effects will be obvious and we will have taken yet another step towards enhancing the quality of our habitat.
Tracey is an accountant and entrepreneur with a passion for nature. This passion is what spurred her interest in renewable energy, and the rest is history as they say. Tracey is a principal in Energy Think Group, the publisher of Solar Thermal Magazine and Tek-Think. She is also the principal at Women's Financial Help Desk. She spends her free time in the outdoors with her horses and dogs. She loves to travel.