In addition to meeting traditional electricity needs for homes and buildings, demand for electricity is growing with increased population, economic growth, water pumping, recycling and desalination, and millions traveling in electric cars, buses and rail. Although California has only 13 percent of the nation’s population, it has half the nation’s solar power, half the grid storage, and half the electric vehicles.
California is on track to use 50 percent renewables in 12 years. Today, California is coal free and nuke free, generating 40 percent of electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower. Wind and solar power are being added, often for less than four cents per kilowatt-hour. Renewables, energy efficiency, energy storage, microgrids, and software are enablers of the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
America is following the sun. Last year, the U.S. welcomed a new megawatt of solar capacity every 36 minutes, which created 1 out of every 50 new American jobs. Solar energy is abundant, affordable, and clean – and it’s growing. Thanks to community solar, it could also become a transformative way to share power, welcoming low-income communities to the economic opportunities of clean, distributed energy.
While rooftop solar has become a familiar part of the solar sector’s growth, it’s not accessible to half of the country. If you don’t own your own roof, don’t have good sun exposure, or don’t have good credit, it’s not an option. From an industry perspective, that means that the solar sector is missing out on at least half of its potential customers.
In a country with relatively dense urban centers, a cold climate, and predominantly fossil fuel heating, it’s no wonder that for many of Canada’s largest cities, buildings are the largest single source of carbon emissions.
Recognizing both the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and that they hold many of the tools to do so, Canadian local governments are approaching the built environment as a key leverage point to creating low-carbon cities. Builders are increasingly seeking first-mover advantage while building operators are hedging against the lifetime costs of electricity and heating fuels. Combined with sky-high real estate costs in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, public and private incentives for innovations to cut energy use, emissions, and long-term expenses in the building sector are stacking up.