Solar power in Utah

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50 kW photovoltaic array installed June 1980 at Natural Bridges National Monument
US annual average solar energy received by a latitude tilt photovoltaic cell (modeled).

Solar power in Utah has the capacity to provide almost a third of all electricity used in the United States. Utah is one of the seven US states with the best potential for solar power, along with California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.[1] Utah allows net metering for residential systems up to 25 kW and up to 2 MW for non-residential users.[2] Utah's renewable portfolio standard can best be described as a goal and calls for obtaining 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025 - if it is cost effective.[3]

By 2011, with the 30% federal tax credit, prices have decreased to the point that they provide an attractive return on investment.[4] Utah allows up to 25% $2,000 tax credit for residential systems and up to 10% $50,000 credit for commercial systems.[5] St. George offers a $2000/kW(AC) rebate of up to $6,000 for residential systems, and up to $20,000 for commercial systems.[6] A similar offer from Rocky Mountain Power of $1.55/watt (AC) has been fully subscribed for 2012.[7]

Utah has the potential to generate 1,500,000 GWh/year from 826 GW of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants using 6,371 square miles - about 7.5% of the state.[8] CSP has the advantage over photovoltaics of integrating storage for up to a day, allowing 24 hour operation, and allowing the hourly output to track demand, with the balance stored as heat.[9] CSP is not able to compensate for seasonal changes, although in the southwest peak demand correlates with peak solar output, due to air conditioning loads. That is not the case for northern climates, where peak demand occurs in winter.[10][11]

On May 24, 2012, Utah's largest solar array at the time was completed, the 1.65 MW array on the roof of the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.[12]

Solar Energy Zones[edit]

On April 20, 2012, the Bureau of Land Management identified 17 "Solar Energy Zones" with the best potential for priority solar development. Three of those are in Utah. In addition to the Solar Energy Zones, an additional 18,098,040 acres is available in Utah for solar application permits from the BLM, plus 1,962,671 acres with a variance.[13]


Photovoltaics (MWp)[17][18][19][20][21][22][23]
Year Total Installed  % Change
2007 0.2
2008 0.2 0
2009 0.6 0.4 200
2010 2.1 1.4 250
2011 4.4 2.3 110
2012 10.0 5.6 127
2013 16.0 6.0 60


  1. ^ Southwest Solar Energy Potential pg. 33
  2. ^ Utah Net Metering
  3. ^ Renewables Portfolio Goal
  4. ^ Sun has come up on solar power, Utah homeowner says
  5. ^ Renewable Energy: Incentives
  6. ^ The City of St. George Net Metering Policy Overview
  7. ^ Utah Solar Incentive Program
  8. ^ Solar 101
  9. ^ Innovation in Concentrating Thermal Solar Power (CSP)
  10. ^ How a Smarter Grid Can Prevent Blackouts—and Cut Your Energy Bills
  11. ^ We must cut demand to have any hope of solving the energy crisis
  12. ^ Bella Energy completes largest solar array in Utah
  13. ^ Solar Energy Development PEIS
  14. ^ Escalante Valley
  15. ^ Milford Flats South
  16. ^ Wah Wah Valley
  17. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 17. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  18. ^ Sherwood, Larry (June 2011). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  19. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2010). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  20. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2009). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  21. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2009). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  22. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2012" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  23. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2014). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2013". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2014-09-26. 

External links[edit]