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U.S. Reaches Milestone of 5 Million Solar Installations

Just eight years ago, in 2016, the U.S. had reached one million solar installations across the country. Now, in 2024, the United States has reached an even more impressive milestone: exceeding five million solar installations nationwide.


This marks a major achievement in the nation's clean energy transition. The power of these combined installations has been able to reduce U.S. carbon emissions equivalent to 22 billion gallons of gas—that’s enough gas to travel to the sun and back nearly 3,000 times or offset the emissions of 12 million Americans, which is greater than the population of NYC and LA combined. 


Not only has this milestone changed the climate landscape of the U.S., but it is also an indication of further hope for the future when it comes to the race against climate change. By 2030, the number of solar installations in the U.S. are expected to double and triple by 2035. While it took America 50 years to reach the milestone of five million solar installations across the nation, it will only take six years to reach 10 million. 


Much of this success can be attributed to families and individuals who have installed solar panels on their homes. In fact, 97% of nationwide solar installations are on residential rooftops. There are now enough solar installations to cover every residential rooftop in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, or 32.5 million households. Residential solar has been steadily increasing over the past decade. Today, 7% of homes in the U.S. rely on solar power, and this number will more than double by 2030, expanding to 15%, and continue to grow exponentially. 


The U.S. is just beginning to tap into the potential of solar energy. For homeowners looking to save on energy costs, residential solar is becoming one of the most viable investments, as it can often result in energy bill savings every month and some research is suggesting that solar panels will increase the value of a home in the future.


Illinois is a major emerging market in solar energy, thanks to the passage of the landmark Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) in 2021, and the state was a major contributor to this national milestone, growing from only 2,500 solar installations in 2017 to over 87,000 in 2024. Technological advancements and critical legislative progress, such as CEJA and the federal Inflation Reduction Act, have made it more affordable and easier than ever to join the clean energy economy and reap the environmental and economic benefits. 


As residential solar increases, it provides an opportunity to implement virtual power plant programs (VPPs). A VPP is a decentralized, cloud-based power plant that brings together multiple energy sources, such as residential solar and storage installations, for distribution. As VPPs are established and grown, ratepayers can experience reduced energy costs and it will increase grid resilience. This cost-effective solution to improving the electrical grid may see a major uptick across Illinois, following its successful implementation in other states, over the next several years.  


The solar energy industry is being supercharged and is currently booming in Illinois. Solar energy has the potential to lower electricity costs, increase the reliability of the electrical grid, and create economic opportunities for millions of Illinois residents. With such enormous progress since 2016, it is exciting to imagine the incredible effects of twice the amount of solar installations in the next five years alone. 


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