Since 2008, President Obama's State of the Union addresses struck a hopeful, forward-looking tone when it came to the topic of U.S. energy policy and how it relates to the growing concerns about climate change.
During this year's address, the president brought up this expected and still necessary topic again, but this time, his approach was much different.
A chance to look back
In his previous speeches, President Obama used a portion of his State of the Union to outline the energy policy goals and set the stage for the national discussion on the topic. But last week, rather than talk about what the country's energy future looks like, the president took the opportunity to talk about how far things have come over the last few years.
"Rather than talk about what the country's energy future looks like, the president took the opportunity to talk about how far things have come over the last few years."
"We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump," Obama said.
All over the U.S., current and future federal and state government-level policies have been geared toward reducing incentives for fossil fuel generators, building Renewable Energy Portfolios and continuing incentives that make rooftop solar affordable for home and business owners.
The success of solar and wind, among other renewables, is part of a broader narrative surrounding the changing energy policies throughout the U.S. as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan and the U.S.-China pact that positions both countries as renewable energy leaders.
Solar is rising high in America
Let's go back to what the president said about solar: Every three weeks, he said, the U.S. brings as much solar power online as it did in all of 2008.
According to Greentech Media, President Obama was citing research the news source did that found that the U.S. installed 22 times more solar in 2014 than in 2008. In 2008 the U.S. installed 263 MW of solar capacity. In 2014, we saw 5.7 GW of solar power brought online throughout the country. To get an idea of the pace of solar installation in the U.S., Greentech noted that a new solar PV system is installed every two minutes.
That the president would tout the stellar growth that solar has seen in front of the entire country seems to be a strong indicator that solar is here to stay. Both utilities and consumers have taken advantage of the generous government incentives and the steadily dropping prices of solar technology to add it to the electrical grid and their individual homes. And as the upfront costs of solar continue to decrease, it's likely that it will be cheaper than fossil fuels in many regions, making it an even bigger part of the energy generation mix in the U.S. And if Americans remain committed to adopting it, solar will again get the accolades it deserves in the next State of the Union.