DENVER, COLORADO –Solar power is growing so fast in Colorado that goals once considered ambitious are now seen as readily achievable, according to a new report by Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center.
“We can get to 20% solar in Colorado by 2025 if we just keep our foot on the accelerator,” said Kim Stevens, Campaign Director of Environment Colorado. “That’s a small fraction of what’s possible, but it will make a big difference in the quality of our lives and the future of our planet.”
The group’s researchers found that solar has grown 44% in recent years. Even if this pace slowed to 30%, solar could still generate 20% of Colorado’s electricity in just over a decade— a goal once thought improbable by many.
Achieving this target, the report said, would cut as much carbon pollution as 1.6 million cars emit in a year, and put Colorado more than halfway to the benchmark set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which requires cuts in power plant carbon pollution of 35 percent.
“What our little county produces today from solar is enough electricity for 15,000 homes. Solar could and should provide electricity for every home in the county,” said Alamosa County Comissioner, Marianne Dunne.
Solar is currently the fastest-growing industry in the country, adding 143,000 jobs nationwide in 2013. According to the latest solar jobs census from the Solar Foundation, the solar industry employed more than 3,600 people in Colorado in 2013.
“Our strongest clean energy economy will be one that allows participation from utilities, homes and businesses alike,” said Jessica Scott, regional manager with Vote Solar. “We need policies that support this type of diverse market and that continue to make solar more accessible and more affordable to more Coloradans.”
The report quantifies the state’s enormous solar energy potential using data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Already, the state is home to more than 500,000 residential and commercial rooftops that could host solar panels, and it has enough technical potential to meet the state’s energy needs 360 times over.
“When it comes to solar energy, the sky’s the limit,” said Stevens. “Getting to 20% solar is the just the first step to a future powered entirely by pollution-free energy.”
Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.Environmentcoloradocenter.org