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Good News on Solar in Utah


Google’s Project Sunroof shows Salt Lake City’s massive solar potential. Click the image to navigate to the Sunroof site to explore the city’s energy potential.

Did you know that more solar energy reaches Earth in just five days than all of the fossil fuel reserves combined? Harnessing that solar energy is a critical part of switching to renewable energy and creating a more sustainable community, especially for sunny Utah.

And while the $2,000 state solar tax credit is set to phase out by 2021, there’s still enormous room for growth.

In fact, the solar market in Utah is booming! Utah has a particularly high potential for solar energy because of the sunny, dry climate. Google’s Project Sunroof** estimates the solar potential of all buildings in a region based on roof size, angles, shade, obstacles, and local weather. The model shows that 71 percent of Salt Lake’s roofs are viable for solar installations. (Navigate to the site to zoom in and view different parts of the city)

If all of these buildings installed solar, we could eliminate 403,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. These CO2 savings are equivalent to removing over eighty-five thousand cars from the road for a year, or planting and growing 10.3 million trees for ten years!

We’re making progress: Between 2010 and 2016, Salt Lake City’s net metered solar installations have grown by a factor of 25! However, it’s worth noting that just 0.6% of Salt Lake City’s community-wide electricity is generated from these systems– meaning we have much more room to grow.

That steady growth continues to help jobs.

Nationwide, solar jobs grew by 25 percent in 2016. In Utah, solar jobs grew by 65 percent—more than twice as fast as the national average—and the number of residential solar installations increased by 200 percent! Utah solar companies created more than 1,700 new jobs in 2016, and that’s good news for the environment and the economy (National Solar Jobs Census).

With cheaper solar technology costs and an abundance of solar energy potential, things are looking bright for Utah’s economic growth and sustainable energy development. Solar energy is a big part of Salt Lake City’s Climate Postive plan that will aim to have the city running on 100% renewable energy by 2032!

**Flashback: Salt Lake City was the first to launch its own solar map years ago, developed by Salt Lake City’s Geographic Information Systems coordinator Kevin Bell. . . ahem– #aheadofthetimes!

Source: Project Sunroof data explorer (February 2017).

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