By Maura Forrest
August 27, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama announced a series of new measures this week to encourage clean energy development, with an emphasis on solar power.
The president made the announcement on Monday at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.
Highlights of the plan include an additional $1 billion in loan guarantee authority for distributed energy projects using innovative technology, such as rooftop solar and methane capture for oil and gas wells.
Obama also committed $24 million to 11 solar projects across the country that aim to double the amount of energy a solar panel can produce. The government will also expand its residential property-assessed clean energy financing program, to make loans more readily available to homeowners who want to purchase home energy improvements.
The Obama administration has also approved the 485-megawatt Blythe Mesa solar project and transmission line in California, which aims to produce enough renewable energy to power 145,000 California homes.
“For decades we’ve been told that it doesn’t make sense to switch to renewable energy,” Obama said at the summit, as reported by Reuters. “Today that’s no longer true.”
The average cost of a solar system in the U.S. has dropped by 50 per cent since 2010, and distributed solar prices fell 10 to 20 per cent in 2014 alone.
This week’s announcement follows on the heels of the country’s new Clean Power Plan, announced earlier this month. According to that plan, states will be required to cut carbon emissions by an average of 32 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. These new measures are designed to help the country meet that target.
Though the announcement is significant, it’s still worth noting that solar power accounts for less than one per cent of the electricity generated in the United States. Renewable energy provides about 13 per cent of the nation’s electricity, and about half of that is from hydro power.
In contrast, the majority of Canada’s electricity is supplied by hydro. But other renewable energy sources, chiefly wind power, make up just three per cent of the electricity mix.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Levine