Solar farms are increasingly available in the US, as solar installations increase, but a new study has found that solar farms in rural America may be in a particularly advantageous spot for 2018.
A new report by solar and wind developers and investors finds that solar and photovoltaic installations in the United States increased from 17,600 MW in 2019 to more than 22,000 MW in 2021.
That is roughly double the number of solar farms that were installed in 2019.
“While the solar industry has grown steadily in recent years, its share of total electricity generation in 2020 was only 2.3% of all US electricity generation, and only 8.3%, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association,” according to a report released Wednesday by Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI).
“The most recent analysis by SERI found that over the next five years, the US will be adding nearly a third more solar energy capacity than we do now, but the solar power sector has been stuck in a plateau.
This means that even if we continue to grow solar power, our country’s solar capacity will remain relatively low for decades to come.”
Solar farms have become a popular option for many investors, because they are less expensive than conventional electricity generation and can be more efficient.
SERI said that it expects a 3% increase in installed capacity to reach 5,600 GW by 2022, compared to 4,000 GW in 2019, which is a 10% increase.
The Solar Energy Institute says that solar power generation in 2021 was already above capacity projections by 2035.
SEIA expects that to be the case by 2032.
Solar farms are a good fit for rural areas because they produce less power than conventional power, which in turn is used for other purposes.
SERI said it found that most solar farms were located near towns with a population of fewer than 100,000 people, and those farms have an annual generating capacity of roughly 1,300 megawatts.
The report said that this type of production can provide a large amount of energy savings for homeowners.
“Solar farms provide significant economic benefits, with energy savings up to 40% on average, with no need for additional equipment or maintenance,” the report said.
Solar farms can also provide a low cost alternative to coal, which can be costly to maintain, and it can be cheaper to generate electricity than natural gas, which costs more per kWh, SERI noted.
Solar farms generate about 20% of electricity for the US from natural gas alone.
Solar farms can be especially beneficial in areas that are already heavily reliant on coal, such as Alaska and Nevada, which have large coal-fired power plants.
As for the future, SEIA said that the solar energy industry will continue to expand, as more and more of the nation’s electricity generation is generated from renewable sources.
It expects that solar capacity in 2021 will reach more than 13 GW, which would be nearly two-thirds of the capacity in 2019 and would represent more than half of the total capacity by 2031.