California Reaches Solar Power Milestone

Rooftop solar panels have certainly caught on.

By Mike Anderson
|  Sunday, Nov 13, 2011  |  Updated 4:38 PM PDT
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CA Hits Solar Power Milestone

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The state wants to install three gigawatts of rooftop solar panels by 2016.

Forget about the bad economy and the Solyndra saga. California's solar industry has actually been growing rapidly -- and it just hit a major milestone to prove it.

The golden state has installed enough solar panels on rooftops of homes and businesses to produce one gigawatt of power, KQED's Climate Watch reports.

One gigawatt is equal to one thousand megawatts, or enough to power 600,000 homes. Only five other countries in the world can claim that, including Germany, which has reached 17 gigawatts.

“Getting to one gigawatt is a fantastic marker of the momentum towards California's clean energy future,” Sungevity President Danny Kennedy said in a report by Environment California. “Riding the exponential curve of growth, which is akin to the mass adoption of cell phones or satellite TVs, will create many more good jobs and great opportunity for the Golden State.”

California installed 205 megawatts of rooftop solar panels in 2011 alone. Even some Silicon Valley churches are going solar. The Bay Area is also a hotspot for solar carports, those ugly structures in school parking lots people park under. The carports managed to crank out about 20 megawatts of electricity last year.

One gigawatt is impressive, but California isn't stopping there. It's aiming for three gigawatts of rooftop solar by 2016 -- which was mandated by California's Million Solar Roofs Initiative five years ago.

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