Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth. Enough energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year! A range of technologies and innovations are used to convert sunlight into usable energy, such as solar water heating, space heating and cooling, and solar photovoltaics (PV) for electricity.
Though these technologies operate on essentially a free resource – sunlight – the upfront capital cost, particularly for PV, has historically been a hurdle for most consumers. In recent years, however, technology advancements, creative financing options, and enabling policies have significantly reduced the installed costs for PV systems, resulting in rapid market adoption across the residential, non-residential and utility sectors. The figure on the right, based off SEIA & GTM Research’s 2012 Q2 Solar Market Insight Report, illustrates just how much the average price of PV systems has decreased since 1998.
Solar energy represents a strategic national opportunity to create jobs and support economic development, while also reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. As with The Southeast United States is second only to the Southwest regarding regions of the country with the best solar resources (also known as solar irradiance or insolation). The long, hot and humid summers and resulting high electricity usage (air conditioning) coincides well with peak solar energy output during the day. At the end of 2011, North Carolina and Florida led the Southeast in installed PV capacity, with 85 megawatts (MW) and 95 MW, respectively (IREC 2012).
Though relatively small in market share compared to states such as California (~1,500 MW) and New Jersey (~565 MW), the continued decline in costs for solar has sparked a growing interest by consumers and utilities across all southern states. In addition, several states – such as Tennessee and Georgia – are now home to major solar manufacturing facilities, further developing the solar industry and southern economy. America’s solar energy market has grown exponentially in the last 10 years and has an even sunnier outlook for the years to come.
After a year of working hard on energy efficiency improvements, in March 2012 SACE's Knoxville, TN office officially became solar-powered. Our Green Earth Solar system's performance - from kilowatts produced to pollution reduced and dollars earned - can be tracked through this Sunny Portal. SACE's Office in Knoxville is now equipped with a 9.36 kW, ground-mounted system, with Sharp ND-240QCJ panels, a Sunny Boy…
Grants and loan guarantees are currently available through U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Energy for American Program (REAP). The funding is available to farmers and small rural businesses for renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment, energy technical assistance, energy audits, and feasibility studies. More information and other deadlines are available here. The USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is a federal cost-share…
Like any revolutionary idea, the idea behind Green Power Switch is simple: harness the natural power of the wind, the sun, and the earth to create an energy source that's usable in our everyday lives. Working in cooperation with the environmental community, TVA developed Green Power Switch as a way to bring green power — electricity that’s generated by renewable resources such as solar,…
Solar energy is a highly reliable and proven technology for producing clean energy. Solar energy includes multiple technologies; some are known as passive and some are known as active. Passive technologies includes technologies for designing a home to take advantage of natural sunlight for heating and lighting. Active technologies include adding equipment to your home for producing electricity or hot water. Two common technologies…
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy continually tracks, researches, and analyzes the latest data available regarding renewable energy resources in the Southeast. Our review of eleven Southeastern states indicates that local energy resources are sufficient to fulfill an aggressive national mandate for renewable energy. These numbers are subject to updates and change as technology and markets continue to evolve. In the table below, we…
Related Press Releases
Related Fact Sheets
Related How Tos