April 12, 2019 Read More →

Study projects sharp growth in solar generation across southeast U.S. through 2022

Times Free Press:

Solar power generation is projected to more than double across the South by 2022 from last year’s level, but one of the early leaders in turning to the sun a generation ago won’t be one of the major players, according to a new study of solar power in the Southeast.

In its second annual study on solar power released Thursday, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) projects electric utilities in the seven states of the Southeast will boost solar generation above 10,000 megawatts this year and should reach 19,000 megawatts by 2022.

“As solar continues to improve, we’re very bullish and excited about the growth of solar generation,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which compiled the figures from industry and utility data across the region.

But the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was an early promoter of solar power in the 1970s and ’80s with its Green Power Switch and other research programs, is lagging most other Southern utilities, with its solar power output totaling only 81 watts per customer last year. That represents a mere 30 percent of the average solar power wattage provided per customer by all utilities in the Southeast in 2018, which was 269.

States and businesses are pushing utilities in much of the South to turn to more renewable sources for energy, which should continue to get cheaper, even with the phaseout of federal investment tax credits, SACE officials said. “Corporate procurement is driving a lot of solar,” said Bryan Jacob, solar program director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, who helped author the 39-page report.

Five major corporations — Facebook, Google, Target, Walmart and Johnson & Johnson — are collectively projected to account for more than 1 gigawatts of solar generation, including 675 megawatts of solar in Tennessee and Georgia.

More: Although solar power generation is expected to double by 2022 in the South, TVA is still a ‘solar blocker’ in the region, study says

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