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Growth of the Solar Industry in North America and Its Effect on Climate Change

March 24, 2022

Despite the pandemic, North America is keen on expanding solar power generation to meet the increasing needs of the country. According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), the USA is planning to add 39.7 gigawatts to the existing generation mix in the year 2021.

Out of the total additions, most of it is renewable energy. 39% of the planned total are utility-scale solar power farms. That amounts to 15.48 GW. This is the largest solar power addition recorded in a year.

According to the office of energy efficiency and renewable energy, the solar potential in the United States is enormous. A solar farm with a size of around 22,000 square miles of the total land area can generate enough power to supply the whole of the USA. They have projected that there will be rooftop solar PV systems in one in every seven homes by 2030.

Canada is also focused on developing the rooftop solar power industry. They have introduced several solar power schemes to their citizens to promote solar power among the public. Canada looks to increase the solar power generation share from 20% to 50%.

It is quite clear that the whole of North America is on track to accommodate a larger generation share of solar PV.

Since solar PV is one of the cleanest and more sustainable methods to generate power, developed countries like Canada and the USA are researching more on the solar PV industry. As a result, the efficiencies of solar power modules increased gradually. When the efficiency increases, the “capacity factor” of the solar PV plants increases.

With the increase of capacity factor and the reduction of the balance of system costs over time, the Levelized Cost of energy has reduced by 82% in 2019. That means the average cost of a unit (kWh) of solar power generated is around USD0.068. The Levelized Cost of energy is the measure of the average cost of generating a unit compared to other generation methods. This was a huge win. Close to 40% of the solar PV systems implemented in 2019 had cost less than the costs of generating the same power using coal. Coal is usually considered the cheapest method to generate electricity but at the same time, it is very harmful to the environment. It emits quite a lot of harmful substances into the air.

The “Environmental Protection Agency” says that 27% of all carbon emissions in the USA is due to operations in the energy sector. Carbon emissions are remarkably high in energy production using fossil fuels like coal. It further states that if you install one residential solar PV system, you can avoid buying electricity from the utility grid made of fossil fuel. They say that a residential solar PV system can eliminate 3.4 tons of carbon emissions per year. That is equal to planting over 100 trees annually. Imagine what would be the effect if you could install many residential solar PV systems. Solar PV energy generation will heal the wounds created by fossil fuels. It will be a direct answer to climate change (global warming), air contamination, and many health problems that come after environmental pollution.

Our planet needs to be a place in which people can live, plants can grow, and animals can coexist. It is time to show our enthusiasm towards a more sustainable lifestyle by going solar, promoting sustainable values, and teaching future generations.