Southern California environment news and trends

California second to New Jersey in new US solar power installations

According to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the number of solar system installations continues to increase across America. A record 506 megawatts were added over the first three months of 2012, the most of any single quarter to date. This year is predicted to see in excess of 3200 megawatts installed, equaling a 75 percent increase over 2011.

Among the details of the report are the states leading this push towards solar energy, and surprisingly, California is not number one. Instead, we take a back seat to New Jersey, which led all states in the first quarter of 2012 with 174 megawatts installed. California earned the second position with 148.4 MW. As reported by Treehugger, Arizona, Tennessee and Massachusetts round out the top five states, although they recorded far less than New Jersey or California.

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California hits new high in solar energy generation

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David McNew/Getty Images

As reported by GreenTechMedia, California has hit a new record high for solar energy production. According to Stephanie McCorkle of the California Independent System Operator (CASIO), the record was set on June 8 with 849 megawatts of solar energy generated.

“We don’t know how to measure or predict where we’ll go next, since this is the first time we’re seeing numbers this high,” explained Steven Greenlee, a spokesperson for CASIO by telephone. “If anything, it shows that the state is making progress on meeting its goal of 33 percent renewable energy. That’s indirectly, because those numbers are counted differently. But it’s still very good news and evidence that we’re on the right path to greening the grid.”

Both McCorkle and Greenlee agree that record number is sure to go even higher over the course of the summer.

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U.S. solar panel usage through the roof

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Lauren Sommer for NPR

Despite signs pointing to what could have been a grim year, 2011 was booming for American solar industries. According to a new GTM Research, solar panel installations more than doubled last year, with 1,855 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity going up as opposed to a mere 887 megawatts in 2010. That’s 109 percent growth, for those keeping score at home.

"In 2011, the market demonstrated why the U.S. is becoming a center of attention for global solar," said Shayle Kann, the managing director of the GTM Research’s solar practice in a press release. “It was the first year with meaningful volumes of large-scale PV installations.”

“We went from an industry that was installing megawatts a year to an industry that’s installing gigawatts,” adds Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association to the New York Times. “If we can attract the investment, the opportunity to grow is really limitless simply because demand for energy, and clean energy, is just so great.”

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