At least one gigawatt of rooftop solar power capacity has been installed in California to date. This is according to a report released by the Environment California Research and Policy Center. The large number of installations is due to the decrease in solar prices. This is a positive move towards California’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative goal of 3GW of installed solar capacity by 2016.
The Million Solar Roofs Initiative was made to improve the solar industry in the state. It was started in 2007 and since then the total costs of residential solar installations in California dropped by 25 percent. The costs of commercial solar systems dropped more than 40 percent.
According to the report, the decline in the costs of solar installations was made possible by the decline in retail costs of solar panels as well as major improvements in the solar value chain across the globe. The drop in solar power prices was due to the increase of manufacturing capacity. Solar prices in California became cost-competitive with traditional electricity generation partly due to the state’s policies and the lower prices.
Aside from providing clean electricity, the solar industry has created new jobs in California and the rest of the United States. According to The Solar Foundation’s 2011 National Solar Jobs Census Report, there are at least 3,500 solar companies in the state of California that employs 25,000 workers. In the United States, the solar industry generated 100,237 jobs. Solar companies plan to increase their workforce by 24 percent in 2012 by creating at least 24,000 new jobs.
But it’s not all good news for the solar industry. According to a recent report, SolarWorld’s success could hinder the growth of solar industry in the United States. The US solar industry will suffer higher solar panel prices and lower demand if duties were imposed on Chinese imports.
Analysts state that too much protectionism is bad for the solar industry. 76.4 percent of solar industry respondents of a survey opposed the petition made by SolarWorld. 20 percent of the companies surveyed said they support SolarWorld.
The Coalition for Affordable Solar energy was formed two weeks ago and has 25 leading solar companies as members. It represents more than 9,000 workers in the US solar industry. The group is still growing. It is committed to promote innovation, build a domestic solar industry, and make solar affordable for Americans.