#MillionSolarStrong Campaign Celebrates Meteoric Growth in Solar Industry
Solar energy is on a rapid ascent, and the Solar Energy Industries Association is using broad outreach and social media to shout it from the rooftops.
The United States is now home to more than 1 million solar installations, including both rooftop and utility-scale projects.
To celebrate the milestone, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) launched its #MillionSolarStrong campaign this week. The campaign draws attention to how solar energy provides jobs, contributes to the economy, and improves air quality.
“The idea that we are celebrating a million solar installations in this country is remarkable, given we had just a couple thousand when I started here a dozen years ago,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, in a statement. “This accomplishment is made all the more stunning with the projections indicating we will hit 2 million installations before the end of 2018. Our meteoric growth is driven by the fact that solar is one of the lowest-cost options for electricity and it has been embraced by people who care about the environment and want to choose where their energy is coming from.”
The #MillionSolarStrong campaign includes a social media push as well as direct outreach to hundreds of groups that haven’t traditionally been vocal supporters of solar energy. More than 80 diverse organizations—including the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform and the National Electrical Contractors Association—have signed on to an official declaration [PDF] favoring a strong role for solar energy.
SEIA has invited people to share #MillionStrongSolar selfies on social media, and the effort has engaged members. Through the Thunderclap platform, the campaign reached nearly 77 million people. #MillionSolarStrong is intended to “expand awareness and recognition of solar’s role in the energy picture,” said Dan Whitten, SEIA’s vice president of communications. “We know solar is coming into the mainstream, but not everyone knows that.”
SEIA and the George Washington Solar Institute also released Million Solar Milestone, a factbook [PDF] that provides some statistics and context. For example, it says that the million solar systems installed in the United States provide enough electricity to power the entire state of Pennsylvania, and they have cut enough carbon to equal all of Oregon’s emissions. It also notes that solar installation costs have dropped more than 70 percent in the last decade, and solar energy created one out of every 83 new U.S. jobs last year—the industry now employs more than 200,000 U.S. workers.
The factbook illustrates “the warp speed at which solar is growing in this country,” Whitten said. “It took 40 years to get to 1 million, and it will take two years to get to 2 million.”