Solar May Be Producing More Energy Than Originally Thought

A new report suggests energy agencies are consistenly underselling solar PV production

By Jason Kaminsky and Justin Baca


Renewable energy’s share of our overall energy mix is at the highest level in over 70 years -- even with the drought-induced decline in Western hydropower output.

In California, increasing solar power generation made up for the shortfall in hydropower production. In fact, solar production was up so much that California became the first state to get more that 5 percent of its electricity from utility solar. This dramatic growth in solar generation has driven the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to make a regular habit of reporting record solar outputs as more and more plants come on-line.

These numbers from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and CAISO are helpful. But both miss a huge portion of solar generation.

Solar electricity produced on the utility side (wholesale) of the meter is easily counted by these agencies. But they don't count distributed generation -- the smaller systems located on rooftops. Neither has much visibility on the generation coming from the nearly 700,000 customer-sited PV systems in the U.S.

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