Why We Need This

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Five Reasons the Time is Right

 

Here are the top five reasons to work towards a dramatic increase in the use of solar energy in Colorado:

 

 

Yellow house with picket fence in Lafayette, Colorado showing solar thermal system on the roof; McStain employee  homes; drain back solar domestic hot water system with a a 120 gallon storage tank

1. SOLAR CUTS FUEL COSTS – Moving quickly towards solar as a first choice for energy will help us save money as the price of fossil fuels continue to rise. Coal costs are increasing rapidly as demand heats up globally for this carbon-intensive source of power, and production costs are also zooming up. While natural gas prices have been historically low in recent years, this fuel has a long history of price volatility. Besides, increasing pressure to greater regulate fracking is likely to result in higher costs. Utility bills are on a steady upward course as fuel increases and utilities face other increasing costs. A million solar roofs will help us move towards energy independence and can save up to $324 million in energy prices each year in Colorado.

2. SOLAR COSTS ARE DROPPING DRAMATICALLY – Solar is growing more affordable to more people every day. Costs for solar technology have decreased by up to 75 percent in just the past three years. Costs are continuing to fall because of technological innovation and economies of scale. Major efforts are now focused on bringing down “soft’’ cost aspects of solar systems such as permitting and financing. Combined, these initiatives are helping us move to the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program goal of bringing down the installed cost of solar to $1 a watt for utility-scale systems by 2020 and $1.50 a watt for residential scale systems. The federal government is seeking to make solar cost-competitive with other sources of energy by 2020 and we share their belief that this is an achievable goal.

3. SUNNY COLORADO IS A NATURAL SOLAR LEADER – Colorado is uniquely positioned to take the lead in going solar in a big way. Our 300 days of sunshine per year make solar one of our most valuable natural resources—one that we are already tapping. Colorado ranks fifth in the nation for installed solar and last year was the number one state per capita in solar jobs. We have world class resources such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. We are lucky to have the best location in the nation for solar thermal heating – our cold nights and warm days make us the national bull’s eye for solar thermal performance. Colorado has significant residential, commercial and industrial roof space available and has great solar resources for larger projects in areas such as the San Luis Valley. Colorado’s increasing shift from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas will provide greater flexibility to integrate more solar and wind energy onto the utility grid. Not only technically feasible, this integration will provide economic and environmental benefits.

4. SOLAR HELPS SLOW CLIMATE CHANGE – Solar energy is growing increasingly important as a solution to climate change—and the imperative to act will only grow greater. Our state has been wracked by severe drought, and long-term models show our water supplies will be increasingly stretched thin. The biggest single user of water in Colorado besides agriculture is fossil-fuel burning power plants. Fracking also demands enormous amounts of water. Most solar energy technologies, on the other hand, consume no water. Equally important, solar emits no greenhouse gases and no air pollution. It is a big part of the solution to our urgent need to address climate change as we see average temperatures continue to break records.

5. FINANCING MAKES SOLAR AFFORDABLE – More financing options are bringing solar within reach of nearly everyone. Most residential systems being installed are now leased equipment which require little or no upfront investment from consumers. These homeowners put nothing down but realize savings on utility bills immediately. Purchased systems are far more affordable than they were just a few years back. Community solar arrays allow participants to invest relatively little to get a portion of their energy from solar. Innovative projects such as the 650-unit Denver House Authority array are marshaling private capital to put solar panels on public housing. New uses for solar energy are opening up as interest grows in electric vehicles. Charging stations at public garages and in private homes powered by solar energy will provide cheaper alternatives to gasoline and offer new financing models. Access to capital for solar will continue to grow along with demand.