Thursday, October 15, 2009

California's Solar Power Leadership Role -- An Economic Strength?

Things are shaping up to look a lot brighter in the Golden State. Going against a downward national trend, clean energy leader California is on a streak to more than double installation of solar energy systems during 2009, far more than any other state in the nation.

Even during the worst phases of the economic downturn, installations in California have risen. Taking full advantage of federal stimulus money and the Solar Investment Tax Credit, California holds the majority of solar patents and has proven to be committed to clean up its act and lead the country on sustainable energy. Installations are projected to jump 120 percent this year, compared with a 27-percent global decline.

Technology research house iSuppli expects 350 megawatts worth of solar systems will be installed in California during 2009, while the rest of the country is expected to install only 132 MW in that same time. The trend is expected to continue to 2010, when California photovoltaic installations, in terms of megawatts of power generated, would increase another 68 percent, while solar panel installations around the world grow 54 percent.

In a late September visit to the Club, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed his support for solar energy and outlined key strategies that are keeping California ahead on energy issues, touting the state as a national and global leader on environmental politics. The governor’s visit marked the third anniversary of AB32, legislation that catapulted California to worldwide leadership in green economics.

"Leaders from around the world are coming to California to see all the innovation and excitement that is going on in our state," Schwarzenegger told the audience during his speech at the Fairmont hotel. "A wave of green innovation is washing over our state now."

The governor also recently signed an executive order to direct the California Air Resource Board to adopt regulations increasing California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 33 percent by 2020. The order upholds the state’s leadership in environmental policies and builds on AB32 goals by ensuring California will have the ability to use renewable energy sources.

And all that clean technology could be helping to pull California out of its economic slump as well. "Fighting climate change is not just about the environment; it’s also about seizing an incredible economic opportunity," said Schwarzenegger. "Since 2005, green jobs in California have grown 10 times more than any other jobs.”

President Obama has expressed the desire to pass a climate bill that not only creates new American jobs but also continues offering incentives that spur innovation, so California can serve as an example of how such goals are implemented.

"One hundred fifty years ago, it was the industrial revolution that changed the world and ushered in a new era of prosperity," said the governor. "But now, today the green revolution will do exactly the same."

--By Heather Mack

(Photo courtesy NASA.)


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