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This week the Energy Department announced a new SunShot Technology-to-Market funding opportunity, providing $45 million for businesses and entrepreneurs to bring new solar technologies into production. We are excited to see how opportunities like this will continue to bolster a growing solar sector. As President Obama said in last week's State of the Union, every three weeks in 2014, we have installed as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. With the cost of solar projects decreasing, demand is increasing -- and we are seeing explosive growth in solar energy.
Last week we took a look at the growth of solar capacity (chart below) and we wondered: What's the distribution of solar plants across the United States, and how has it grown over the years?
Explore the map above using the timeline to slide between years. We can see things really take off around 2008. Since then, The U.S. has added about 630 solar plants with a distributed capacity of 1 MW or greater. This accounts for a 1,200 percent increase in capacity, or about 6,000 MW.
Just how much energy is that? The energy generated by utility scale solar in the U.S. is enough to power 1.7 million homes. It is projected to grow to over 4 million homes between now and 2017. This rapid pace of growth is only bolstered by investments like the $45 million recently made available through the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative. This funding is designed to support a growing U.S. solar manufacturing sector, making us more competitive and driving down production and installation costs. By limiting barriers to entry into the market, the number of American homes and businesses powered by the sun will only continue to grow.
If you want to learn more about the SunShot announcement you can read more on our blog.