This post is part of Mosaic’s New Age of Energy Campaign. The campaign highlights the recent groundbreaking technological and financial developments that have recreated the clean energy landscape. Check out the campaign’s home page to view all of the exciting developments, vote below for your favorite, and be entered into the sweepstakes to win an awesome BirkSun solar backpack.
Alaska, that state where Eskimos live in igloos, receives as much sunlight as Germany. What’s remarkable about this? Germany is the largest solar market in the world.
It turns out that the sunniest and windiest places do not always have the most clean energy nor have the greatest impact on reducing greenhouse gases and health costs associated with pollution.
Germany vs. U.S. Solar Comparison
As the irradiance map above indicates, the U.S. receives a tremendous amount more solar radiation than Germany. However, Germany has over 3 times more installed solar energy than the U.S. and in 2011-12 installed 14 times more solar capacity than the U.S. on a per capita basis. The German feed-in-tariff policy, which guarantees payments for solar energy produced over a fixed term, has helped its solar market mature rapidly over the past couple of years. This maturation has helped reduce costs to the point that it is 48% cheaper to install a watt of solar energy in Germany than in the US. Smart policy can make clean energy abundant in places that are not the sunniest or windiest.
Where Clean Energy Makes The Greatest Impact
Looking at the irradiance map again, it is clear that the Southwest U.S. has the greatest solar radiation of any region in the U.S. Contrary to logical deduction, based on research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Southwest is not the location where solar energy would have the greatest impact. That honor goes to the state of New Jersey. A solar panel in the Garden State displaces significantly more sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter than a panel in Arizona, resulting in 15 times more health and environmental benefits.
As for wind power, the state that would receive the greatest value from an additional wind turbine is West Virginia. It’s not that West Virginia receives the most wind but offsetting the negative social and environmental effects of the state’s reliance on coal with clean energy would create more value than any other state. According the research, a wind turbine in West Virginia displaces twice as much carbon dioxide as the same turbine in California.
For people interested in profiting from the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, Mosaic connects individuals to high quality solar projects across the country. Two of Mosaic’s projects that investors have financed have been in New Jersey, the state where solar makes the greatest difference. These two projects will avoid an estimated 22 million pounds carbon dioxide. One of these projects will put solar panels on military housing in Fort Dix, NJ, is still available for investment. Sign up to see current solar projects.
The New Age of Energy Campaign