Solar Energy’s Success is a Win for Everyone

March 18, 2024\Burlington, Washington, USA

In March the International Energy Agency (IEA) provided updated data to show just how significant the increase in renewable energy has been across the world. Not only are solar, wind and other forms of clean energy dominating, but they are reducing and eliminating polluting forms of energy generation along the way.

The environmental benefits of this rise in renewables are creating a path for hope that we can stabilize our emissions that contribute to climate change and global warming at a level that will avoid the worst effects of an altered global climate system. Clean energy technologies have been able to achieve adoption despite market and political headwinds. In fact, the head of the IEA said it well:

The clean energy transition has undergone a series of stress tests in the last five years — and it has demonstrated its resilience” – IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

Here are some important data points highlighted by the IEA relating to solar and other clean energy technologies:

  • At the global level, the deployment of solar PV over the last five years avoids around 1.1 Gt of emissions annually, equivalent to the annual emissions of Japan’s entire energy sector. In certain markets the impact is even more significant. In Australia and New Zealand, deployment of solar PV over the last five years annually avoids an amount of CO2 equivalent to almost 10% of the region’s total annual emissions from energy in 2023.
  • The deployment of solar PV, wind power, nuclear power, electric cars, and heat pumps from 2019 to 2023 avoided around 2.2 billion tons (Gt) of emissions annually. Otherwise, the increase in CO2 emissions globally over the same period would have been more than three times larger than it was (it’s a double benefit when using clean energy to charge electric vehicles, which then avoid the C02 emissions of gasoline and diesel fuel).
  • Here in North America, the solar energy story is brighter than ever. In the US, the Solar Energy Industries Association has released their 2023 market data and it shows that there has never been a year with so much solar energy added to the grid. The US added a record-setting 32.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity in 2023, that’s a 37% increase from the previous record set in 2021 and a 51% increase from 2022. It’s the first time in 80 years that a renewable electricity source has accounted for over half of annual capacity additions to the grid (the last time was when hydro power was being built out on a large scale in the 1940s).
  • This growth in renewable energy adoption saw over 800,000 Americans adding solar to their rooftops. Homeowners installing solar is one of the optimal ways the economic benefits from this energy transition can benefit people and planet. In recent examples from Massachusetts and Florida, the importance of enabling solar power for homes and rooftops has been well understood and its future secured in durable public policies. The expansion of net metering in Massachusetts is estimated by the Department of Public Utilities to save ratepayers $10 million a year with the regulatory change. That state has one of the highest roof-top solar penetration rates in the country (10%), and this has been significant enough to drop polluting generating stations from the grid. The 1.4 GW natural gas fueled Mystic Generating Station serving the ISO New England grid operator used to be in operation each winter to prevent blackouts, but increased solar capacity has made the grid dependable enough to shut down Mystic entirely. Yes. Solar can produce in the winter!

At Silfab Solar we are doing our best to supercharge the clean energy benefits of our products in North America. We are manufacturing solar modules with one of the lowest carbon footprints (or embodied carbon) in the industry. This is due to the clean energy used in the electricity grids where we manufacture. Our facilities in Washington State will be getting increasingly sustainable as the last coal fired electricity generating stations gets taken offline in the next 2 years (we are helping that transition by adding solar in the state) and our new cell and module plant in South Carolina will also be fed by near zero emissions electricity as we situated the plant between a hydro and a nuclear generating station. Silfab Solar is contributing to carbon reduction at every step of our business.

Low carbon solar cells here we come!

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