Rooftop solar, commercial solar power growing in Colorado

rooftop solar energy elp

Led by solid growth in both the residential and commercial markets, Colorado ranked 13th in the nation in installed solar power capacity last year.

According to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review, Colorado added 67 MW of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 398 MW. That’s enough renewable energy to power more than 76,000 homes.

Colorado’s biggest solar energy gains came from residential rooftop solar, but commercial installations increased, as well. Of the new capacity added, 42 MW were residential and 25 MW were commercial. Together, these installations represented a $212 million investment across Colorado.

Today, there are 380 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Colorado, employing more than 4,000 people. Notable solar projects in Colorado include:

Alamosa Solar Generating Project was completed in 2012 by developer Cogentrix. This concentrating photovoltaic (PV) project has the capacity to generate 30 MW of electricity — enough to power more than 5,400 Colorado homes.

Another utility scale project, the Hooper Solar Project, is currently under construction in Colorado and is scheduled to come online in 2016.

Several large retailers in Colorado have also gone solar, including Kohl's, REI, Safeway and Walmart.

IKEA has installed one of the largest corporate PV systems in the state with 1,120 kW of solar capacity at its location in Centennial.

In addition to a growing commercial sector, the Colorado residential market also showed impressive gains last year, with installed system prices dropping by 8 percent — and down a total of 49 percent since 2010. Nationwide, the U.S. residential market added 1.2 GW of installed capacity in 2014, marking the first time that this growing sector surpassed 1 GW of clean, affordable solar. Residential also continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the U.S., with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth.

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