The rebate program targeted at businesses and homeowners in for installing solar panels in California now has enough subscribers to produce 1 gigawatt worth of electricity, which is the first among the US states, and a level reached by only a few nations.
The report on Thursday showed that California residents, taking advantage of the rebate system provided by the California Solar Initiative which put $2.4 billion to kick-start the industry in 2007, have now set up 1,066 MW of solar systems.
In other words, 1 GW represents the approximate output of one nuclear reactor, or two traditional power plants. It also equals 1,000 MW, and shows how much electricity is produced any given instant.
Even though the rebates reduce in value as time goes on (now at 92%), applications for the program continue to increase every year, with solar energy’s growing popularity. Consequently, it is predicted that by 2016, the initial target of the program which was to fund installations enough to produce1,940 MW, would be reached.
The director of the California Public Utilities Commission’s energy division, Edward Randolph expressed optimism that the program is one of few such programs that is reaching its goals ahead of schedule, and with the anticipated decreasing cost the market is drawing ever nearer to self-sufficiency.
The program comes under that of the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, a package providing $3.3 billion worth of funding for the building of successful solar industry in California. The Legislature created the program in 2006 with the aim of installing solar systems capable of generating a total of 3 GW by 2016 state-wide. Solar power’s growing popularity has been helped by falling prices due to an increased production of solar panels worldwide, as illustrated by the initial cost of $9.76 per watt for residential installation when the program started in 2007 to around $6.19 presently, a 37% drop.
The growth of the solar industry has also been boosted by increasing popularity of similar solar lease programs where solar systems can be installed without purchasing the equipment.
Accounting for nearly half of California’s current solar power, the California Solar Initiative is considering further applications capable of producing a further 332 MW.
With the inclusion of other solar systems, such as photovoltaic plants selling their electricity to state utilities, California in is course to generating in excess of 2 GW of solar energy, as stated by the Solar Energy Industries Association.