Renewable Revolution: Don’t Worry, It’s Coming

California currently has just 524 solar projects over 1 megawatt (MW) — but  an incredible 17,707 such solar projects will be on the grid by 2017 [PDF]. This is a huge change! And California is not the only state with such massive change coming.

The U.S. is about to go through an incredible metamorphosis when it comes to energy generation. When you step back from all the individual items of news about large-scale renewable projects and total them up, you see that we have never been through anything like this before. We are about to see a profound change in how we power our homes and businesses with power from utilities, as well as many small distributed solar sources.

renewable-revolution-five-years-usa

image via Abengoa

The solar industry’s list of the 17,707 solar projects over 1 MW about to be added in the next few years consists of 3,373 now under construction, and another 14,334 in the pipeline — at some stage in the approval process.

Solar is ideally suited to being a distributed energy source — on many, many factory rooftops, for example. A Costco or other big box store, or manufacturing plant, could host a 1 MW project. So some of these projects could be as small as the size of a city block or so.

Another clue to what’s in the pipeline is to look at just how many contracts the three big California utilities have signed with renewable developers for the huge solar and wind projects from 100 MW to 1,000 MW.

At between 100 MW and 1,000 MW, these are more the size of traditional power plants. The first few of these contracted projects began to come online in dribs and drabs by 2009 — but the entire 110 projects have start dates up till 2017.

Susan Kraemer enjoys writing to publicize the many great solutions for climate change that we can find if we just put our minds to it. She covers renewable policy and clean energy for CleanTechnica and GreenProphet and green building at HomeDesignFind. She recently moved home to Waiheke Island where her writing is now powered by the 80% renewable electricity that powers New Zealand.

8 Comments

  • Reply May 8, 2012

    curtis

    oh yes! it will get here about the same time as santa.
    “catastrophic climate change” is little overweenig, i think.
    but climate is the new God for these people now. california this,
    california that, i don’t think calfornia will be able to pay for all this great
    new energy. there next to being broke now.

    • Reply May 8, 2012

      Pangs6

      Naysayer this..naysayer that…they all eat their words in the end.  “The Prius will never sell!”  “The earth is flat!”  Your head is probably flat.

  • Reply May 8, 2012

    demsaresatanic

    I’m super-excited about solar energy. My Prius even has a solar panel on the roof. I’m all about being green, you know. Typically I’m greenest every morning directly after dry-heaving into the toilet. I must be pregnant again. And at my age! I should have listened to Julia what’s her name … Is it Julia Stiles the actress – love her! But I digress. For my 90th birthday I will be soliciting donations in order to get solar panels for the roof of my house. I think I will do a raffle to raise money when I attend the RS Gathering. Great idea, huh?

  • Reply May 9, 2012

    VO

    Next flavor of the month: the environmental costs of wind and solar power.

  • Reply May 9, 2012

    Goatstone

    as a wealthy asshole, i see the need for alternatives to petrochemical fuels, but i want everyone who doesn’t to suffer a horrible death at their own hands.  that’s why i publicly support unsustainability.  i bet i can outlast and outkill the competition, because i’m willing to throw my own children under the bus if it means victory, and i think that’s what it will take to save the world from evil ignorant primitive suckers.  we need to convince as many suckers as possible that they are not worth caring about, and the ones who believe us will destroy themselves and leave more room for critical thinkers like me who pay no attention to baseless judgement.  c’mon you can trust me!

  • Reply May 9, 2012

    Christopher Miles

    Argh. Quite a toxic comment section here. Why do people feed the trolls, anyhow?

    If someone isn’t able to spell properly, and can’t seem to frame a thought or properly structure a sentence- ignore them!

    Back on topic- Though I appreciate the upbeat tone,  I do think this article is slightly hyperbolic- (and I am very much for renewables) in that NatGas obtained via frakking is so frighteningly cheap now, and it’s C02 emission level “seems” lower than other fossil fuels (never mind the methane leaks during drilling and transport).

    So I think that the Solar and Wind firms which intend to survive (without excess subsidy) will begin to have to deliver more cheaply- and soon! – Lest the entire nation look to the false promise of  NatGas as our “bridge fuel”.

    Well, at least Nat Gas is killing King Coal:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-end-of-coal-burning-in-the-us

    • Reply May 10, 2012

      Qleon

      Einstein is alive!

  • Reply May 11, 2012

    JO2MUCH

    SO SOLYNDRA IS BACK-ON ,,,,, HA  HA

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