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Contemporary society has become energy-hungry. At the same time, people realize that fossil fuels are finite and the earth fragile, meaning that the day will come - some say it's long past - when alternative energy sources will be a need, not a luxury. Some favor heavy investment in and widespread accessibility of nature-friendly solar energy, a relatively inexpensive option already and certainly endless in supply. A key issue is storage and transmission to address seasonal variation - during winter months the capacity factor averages 15% lower - and weather patterns.

In 2016, the United States ranked third globally in solar energy generation:

  • Last year, solar capacity globally grew by 50 percent thanks to new capacity in the US and China, according to The Guardian. New installed solar photovoltaic capacity surpassed 76 GigaWatts (GW) compared to the previous year 's growth of 50 GW.
  • Solar energy generation and consumption rebounded by over 30 percent from two years before. 
  • A report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that utility-scale solar installation (both photovoltaic and thermal technologies) has spiked by more than 70 percent per year since 2010.  
  • Since 2016, tariffs on installed solar panels in the US have been falling in all the sectors, especially in the residential, commercial, and utility-scale sectors, according to benchmarks from EIA's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The downturn in installed prices of photovoltaic panels illustrates the sustained economic competitiveness of solar energy for the industry across all sectors.

According to the same EIA report, in 2014, California produced at least 5 percent of the state's electricity from utility-scale solar plants. Utility-scale generators are those with at least one MegaWatt (MW) of capacity. Utility-scale facilities made up almost two-thirds of California's total solar energy generation capacity as of February 2017, pushing Calfornia to the forefront of solar generation in the US. California now generates more than 40 percent of the total solar power of the United States.  

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See also

Production and Consumption of Electricity
BP: Nuclear Energy and Hydroelectricity Consumption
Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy May 2017
Energy of Paraguay
Countries Where Over 80% of Electricity Is Renewable