Renewable energy continues to grow substantially in the U.S. and in 2014 it remains a large portion of new power plant capacity – 30% or more through the first three quarters. Often overlooked, distributed solar on residential and commercial property is making up a substantial share of new electrical generating capacity. The following chart illustrates the share of new power generation from solar and other sources in each quarter of 2014, with distributed solar contributing 14% or more in each quarter!
Wind and sun are available everywhere, so renewable energy can be economically harnessed at small scales across the country. This nature of renewable energy, and the exponential increase of renewable energy generation, promises to decentralize the nation’s grid system. But the greater transformation is the democratization of the electric grid, abandoning a 20th century grid dominated by large, centralized utilities for a network of independently-owned and widely dispersed renewable energy generators, dispersing economic benefits as broadly as electricity generation.
ILSR has pursued this vision of a democratized energy system since 1975, when our report on The Dawning of Solar Cells found this then-new, decentralized technology could generate power as efficiently as centralized power plants. In the year since, the Institute has used hard data and thorough analysis to identify policies that break open the energy system to widespread participation and ownership, even as it transitions to cleaner energy sources.