When most people think about solar they think of the southwest, with its 350+ days of full-on baking sun. But SEIA, the U.S. solar energy trade association just released a report that puts the Peach State on the solar map. President Rhone Resch in the SEIA press release
makes the case for solar expansion in the southeastern states:
Those who claim the U.S. does not have enough sun to power our nation are simply wrong. In Georgia, 23.6 percent of electricity could come from rooftop solar alone. As a policy investment, solar is one of the best values for putting Americans back to work and creating growth opportunities for utilities and small businesses alike in the Southeast and across the country.
It's amazing to think that the world leader in solar implementation right now is gloomy, rainy Germany. The reason for this has largely been their passage of smart investment tax credits. Energy researchers Navigant Consulting predict that a similar program (if sustained for 8 years and NOT subject to an annual vote, as has been the case under the Bush administration) would result in a veritable solar explosion in the US -- 440,000 permanent new jobs, $230 billion in private investments, and a tripling of solar energy production from 9,000 gigawatts to 28,000 by 2016.
The state of Georgia is primed to capture a good share of this market. With great solar exposure, dense population centers, over 24 existing manufacturers, installers and developers (PDF)
, and access to land for larger PV and solar thermal arrays, Georgia could eclipse Florida as the second-largest solar producer in the U.S.
Below is a map that compares the solar capabilities of Germany (about the size of the southeastern region of the U.S.) compared to out own:
Image: The National Renewable Energy Lab