California has been besieged by unusual episodes of high temperatures over the past weeks to the discomfort of even the sun-lovers. For the record, the phenomenon is worldwide with the National Climatic Data Center report that “the planet had its hottest summer on record and is well on its way to having the hottest year ever”.
The global temperature for summer was 1.28 degrees above the 20th-century average of 61.5 degrees. Climatologists define summer as the months of June, July and August with the last month on the list “setting an overall record in temperature with even the largest departure from average of any month”.
August of this year recorded the 38th consecutive August (and the 354th consecutive month) that saw a global temperature above historic averages. The last recorded below-average for August was in 1976. The assessment had been culled from the record going as far back at 1880. For the year to-date, 2014 is the third-warmest year on record.
Correspondingly, there has been a noticeable increase advertisements from every media available for consumer to take advantage on the free energy that the sun affords by way of “going solar” in their homes.
How viable is solar power? Historically, capturing the energy potentials of the sun for various purposes in the home has been evolving in the last 50 years into sustainable and adaptive technology. It is predicted in the next decade that with the improvements in the efficiency of the technology, solar power use will gain more acceptances and become an increasing cost-effective and clean alternative to conventional energy sources.
Solar energy is an inexhaustible resource. The sun produces vast amounts of renewable solar energy that can be collected and converted into heat and electricity.
In North America, the market for solar power has experienced tremendous growth during the last three years because of the increasing government concerns on energy security and independence. Factors such as the rising energy prices, volatility of fuel costs, and state and federal government incentives and subsidies, such as the production tax credit and the renewable portfolio standards, have contributed to the hastening of the use of solar power. More than 90 percent of total installations of solar energy projects in North America are in the U.S. with California taking the lion’s share the technological advantage.
At the end of 2013, California had 490 MW of concentrated solar power and 5,183 ME of photovoltaics capacity in operation (concentrated solar use mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area).
Demand for renewable energy is expected to boost the popularity of solar power as a result of the incentives and subsidies provided by the federal and state governments. The U.S. also is expected to increase its dominance and perform strongly in the field of solar energy use.
California has its Solar Initiative programs as part of the Million Solar Roofs Program of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The program envisions the creation of 1,940 megawatts of “new, solar produced electricity by 2016 which will move the State of California toward a cleaner energy future and help in lowering the cost of solar systems for consumers”. The California Solar Initiative has a seven-year budget of $2.167 billion until 2016.
CSI also provides more than $2 billion worth of incentives to customers for installing photovoltaic, and electricity displacing solar thermal systems in the three California Investor-Owned Utilities service territories.
California leads the nation in the number of homes which have solar panels installed, totaling over 230,000 many of which became possible because of the Million Solar Roof Initiative.