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The Cost of Solar is Decreasing

September 28, 2021

Solar is more affordable, accessible, and prevalent than ever before. Its growth over the past dozen years has been staggering, from just 0.34 gigawatts (GW) in 2008 to more than 100 GW today. That’s enough to power 18.6 million American homes.

While these figures sound impressive, solar only accounts for just over 3 percent of electricity production in the United States. This percentage has been slowly rising for over a decade. Still, analysts have long pointed out that a more robust transition to solar will only happen when this renewable energy source becomes cheaper than traditional fuels. Well, that day seems to have arrived. Indeed, recent rapid cost decreases could be a sign that the world is on the cusp of an energy revolution.

Solar-Powered Electricity Costs Less Than Coal

A levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis released in 2018 revealed that producing one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity using solar photovoltaics (PV) costs about $50. By comparison, producing the same amount of coal-fired electricity costs $102. The implication is clear—why would energy producers build more expensive fossil-fuel-powered plants when they could build cheaper, cleaner solar farms?

How Much Solar Power Does the US Need?

The response to decreasing solar costs is evident when you consider that more solar projects are being installed than any other type of renewable energy source. Indeed, the US has added about 36 GW of solar energy capacity in the past two years. This exemplifies the role solar plays in the transition to renewable energy and the fight against climate change.

The United States is trying to slash its carbon emissions to half the levels seen in 2005 by the end of the decade. How much solar power is needed to reach this goal?

Consider that with just 22,000 square miles of land—roughly the same surface area as Lake Michigan—solar farms could produce enough electricity to power every home and business in the country. Many of the United States’ solar panels are also installed on rooftops with essentially no land-use impacts. An estimated one in seven US homes will have rooftop solar panels by 2030, reducing the land-use requirements for solar farms even further.

Take Advantage of Decreasing Solar Costs

The drastic decline in solar prices over the past few years has increased the demand for solar farms. If you’re a landowner, consider leasing your property to a solar developer. The potential lease fee could far exceed the per-acre earnings from traditional farming and ranching. Plus, solar farms contribute to the renewable energy revolution and help ensure cleaner air and water for future generations.

The abundance and potential of solar power in the US is staggering. Now is the time to get involved! For help negotiating a deal with potential solar developers, turn to NLR solar. We have been helping landowners sign fair, profitable agreements since 2014.

A free, comprehensive evaluation tells you how suitable your land is for solar development, so contact us today to get started!

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