Celebrating Earth Day 2023: A Year in Review of Solar Energy Progress 

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Celebrating Earth Day 2023: A Year in Review of Solar Energy Progress 

Well, Earth day is coming up and there’s plenty to think about when it comes to generating clean energy. The solar power industry reached new milestones in 2022, including new legislation and solar installations reaching an all-time high. But even more exciting developments are on the horizon.

Despite hurdles that solar energy faced this past year — including uncertainty in the economy, inflation, and short-term panel shortages — it was not enough to deter from the monumental success of the industry. 

In honor of Earth Day 2023, we’ve listed the top highlights for solar power in 2022.

New Legislation Boosts Solar Power Adoption

In a show of bipartisan support, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) last year. The IRA raises the federal tax credit for solar power to 30% until 2032. It substantially reduces the cost of residential solar projects while speeding the payback period. For example, a homeowner could offset $7,500 in taxes on a $25,000 solar project. 

Without this change, the tax credit would have remained at 26% for 2022, dropped to 23% in 2023 and disappeared entirely in 2024.

And the credit isn’t limited to power generation. It also applies to solar battery storage equipment, which doesn’t need to connect to a solar power system to qualify.

Here are other incentives included in the IRA:

  • Commercial solar power 
  • Domestic manufacturing of solar power systems and components
  • Heat pumps, water heaters, new windows and other utilities improvements

In the long-term, the IRA has sweeping effects in the solar power industry — specifically by amplifying the development and reach of solar power. 

[Related: 10 Clean Energy Benefits in the Inflation Reduction Act That Could Change Your Home and Fill Your Wallet]

Solar Powers Homes During Natural Disasters

Last year, extreme weather events challenged the nation’s power grid. But residential solar installations and battery storage were able to provide power to those without electricity.

For example, in California, residential solar batteries (via rooftop solar charging) provided approximately 340 MW to the local grid. This helped avoid blackouts during the record 2022 heat wave. To put this power into perspective, a midsize coal-fired power plant produces less capacity than 340 MW. The California Solar and Storage Association estimates that more than 80,000 residential battery sites connect to the state’s electric grid. That’s far more than 340 MWs’ worth. 

In Florida, Hurricane Ian devastated parts of the Gulf Coast, knocking out electricity for weeks. Nonetheless, the power in one Fort Myers community remained stable thanks to solar. As a result, this community was able to provide both power and shelter to displaced hurricane victims. 

These natural disasters show the resilience and added security that solar energy provides. 

[Related: Anniversary of the 2021 Texas Freeze: What’s Legislation Got To Do With It?]

Renewable Energy Beats Coal-Powered Energy 

The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) projected that wind and solar power generation would exceed coal and nuclear power production in 2022. This proved true.

Furthermore, the EIA reported that solar, wind and hydropower provided around 22% of the nation’s energy requirements in 2022, up from 20% in 2021. Coal-generated power made up only 20% of the country’s energy production and use (down from 23% in 2021). As power from coal gradually decreases, power from renewable sources increases. What’s more, the EIA expects U.S. solar capacity to double over the next three years.

To explain further, the U.S. currently has about 77 GW of solar capacity. An additional 72 GW of power could be available from projects scheduled from October 2022 to September 2025. Looks like we have some green Earth Days to look forward to in the future!

This overall power capacity is the most from any renewable energy source. Wind is next-closest in line at 18 GW of high-probability energy generation.

[Related: 10 Reasons Why Solar Energy Should Be Every Homeowner’s Next Investment]

Solar Installations Reach All-Time High in Q3

Commercial and residential solar had a historic quarter in the U.S. with 45% of new electricity generation coming from solar installations — this is more than any other electricity source. 

To explore this further, the residential segment saw a 43% increase in solar additions in Q3 2022 from Q3 2021. What’s more, Q3 solar increased 16% from Q2 2022 — Earth Day continues to get greener!

As for commercial solar, installations have increased 3% year-after-year. And increased 10% quarter-after-quarter. Q3 2022 saw a whopping 340 MWdc of electricity generation from solar additions. 

California still leads the country in solar, with SEIA estimating that 36% of Q3 residential solar additions occurred in the Golden State. But Texas isn’t far behind, and currently leads the country in combined wind and solar renewable energy.

[Related: Five Best and Worst U.S. States for Solar in 2021]

Hikes in Electricity Prices Show Solar’s Value

Spiking 2022 electricity rates showed how much of an impact solar can make in terms of savings. The average price of grid-sourced electricity increased 16% in 2022 — the largest increase in 40 years.

Some states experienced far greater increases. For example, Massachusetts had a 64% rate increase, and Connecticut saw 50%.

Such rapid hikes in rate highlight the power of solar regarding cost savings and more predictable energy bills. Money savings and bill predictability can even reduce energy spending by tens of thousands of dollars over a solar system’s 25-year average life span.

Note: Check out our Solar Potential Calculator to determine your solar savings potential based on your geographic location, environmental conditions and more.

[Related: How Going Solar Benefits the Environment and Public Health

Generate Clean Energy on Earth Day and Beyond With Freedom Solar 

As we reflect on the advancements in solar energy this past year, the most immediate actions you can take to lower your carbon footprint are investing in renewable energy sources. With solar energy, not only will you be doing good for the earth, but you’ll also save thousands in the course of your panels’ lifetime. Speak to one of our energy consultants about the various finance options for home solar installations, business owners, or utility companies. 

Going solar isn’t as difficult as you may think — at least with Freedom Solar. We provide attentive one-on-one consultations to discuss the award winning SunPower solar panels and backup power solutions that work best for your home or business. 

And what better time to go green than on Earth Day?

If you’re ready to get started, call (800) 504-2337 or complete our online inquiry form. One of our energy consultants will be in touch!

Featured image via Unsplash

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Willie Nelson for Freedom Solar

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