How Solar Energy Can Change Arizona

The state of Arizona in the United States of America has a very ambitious goal: that 33% of its energy be supplied by renewable sources until 2020. How can Arizona achieve that? With solar energy. In this post, we look at Arizona’s solar potential and how it can be unlocked.

The sunny, sparsely populated, state in America’s South West has labelled itself smartly as “the Persian Gulf of solar energy”. It now wants to show that it is possible to reduce the share of energy from fossil fuels and that it is the right time to invest into solar energy: installation costs are falling, the efficiency of solar cells is improving and the threats of air pollution and global warming require a solution.

In the USA as a whole, solar has seen rapid growth. As might know that the amount of solar photovoltaic capacity has increased three-fold since 2012, power more than 3.2 million homes. Nowadays, more than half of all new U.S. electricity generating capacity comes from solar installations.

Within the American solar success story, Arizona has a prominent role. There are currently projects of more than 10 GW in various stages of development. The largest single project that is already up and running are Agua Caliente Solar Project with almost 400 MW. It is followed by the 300 MW Arlington Valley solar project.

However, solar is not only being deployed on the state’s vast arid stretches of land, but also on the rooftops. It’s potential is vast: Across the US, there are an estimated 35 million residential and commercial rooftops that could host solar panels across. In Arizona, alone there are more than 800,000 rooftops that could have a solar system.

What can Arizona win by investing in solar energy?

So, by investing in solar energy, Arizona can easily achieve its goal of reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. In addition, it can create a stronger local economy, generate tens thousands of new jobs and become a global technology innovator. In addition, it would help to stop climate change and make America more energy secure.

Let’s take a look at the past. Between 2010 and 2013, solar PV capacity in Arizona increased at a rate of 142% per year, right? Now, assuming that this increase won’t change in the next ten years, Arizona can cover 25% of its energy supplies come from solar energy.

The benefits for the environment would be significant: solar power would reduce Arizona’s carbon emissions by 13 million metric tons in 2025. This is the equivalent of taking 2.8 million cars off the road. Besides that, Arizona would also reduce its water consumption. Natural gas and coal plants require a great amount of water. By investing in solar, this would decrease considerably.

The economic impact would also be great since solar energy can create jobs. Today, Arizona has more than 8,500 Arizonans working in the solar energy industry.

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Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan is a staunch solar promoter, serial entrepreneur & management consultant. He has a decade of experience in solar PV, disruptive technologies and political consultancy in USA and India. He believes that development of solar and other renewable technologies is critical to India's energy security. Gayrajan holds a Masters and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from USA. Follow him on Twitter to gain daily industry insights.
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Showing 2 comments
  • Yianni Georgoulias
    Reply

    Dear Director,
    Very good article about Arizona Solar Energy.
    Please sent us more details for a potential investment

    Regards
    Yianni Georgoulias

  • Michael Corridan
    Reply

    Renewable energy is more than just electricity. Wake up, WORLD. Solar thermal for space heat makes better economic sense in Northern AZ and all of Colorado than PV or Wind on a dollar per delivered Watt of energy; i.e. DIRECT offset for fossil, with economics which dwarf PV. Only when the solutions truly approach “all of the above” will we start to make the penetration into reckless fossil use. One oil exec stated using fossil for energy is like burning Picassos for heat. Congrats to Northern Arizona University for waking up to benefit of solar thermal hot air. A recent installation at NAU of 12kW of heat energy for less than $12K, INSTALLED, demonstrates the point. Maybe Colorado ( and every school in the nation!) will wake up, soon. The math works, the fossil displacement is direct, and simply THINK. PV is NOT the only solar solution.

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