Utah has a tremendous and largely untapped solar resource, and the potential for solar development is widespread across the state. The technical resource potential varies for each type of solar technology and application, for example:
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP): According to the Utah Renewable Energy Zone Task Force Report, Utah's technical potential for CSP is about 826 Gigwatts (GW) - or 826,000 MW. This represents 16,500 technically potential 50-Megawatt sites, covering appriximately 6,371 square miles of land.
This amount of concentrating solar potential could generate over 1.5 million Gigawatt hours per year (GWh/yr) - equivalent to the annual electricity demand of over 150 million average Utah homes.
Rooftop Solar Photovoltaics (PV): Utah's technical potential for roof-top solar PV (in 2010) is approximately 5 Gigawatts (GW), or 5,000 Megawatts (MW),1 which could produce 7 million megawatt hours of electricty per year (MWh/yr) - enough to power over 720,000 Utah homes for a year.
Benefits: Solar energy is one of the fastest growing energy resources in the world, providing an inexhaustible and clean source of electricty and heat. Solar's primary benefit is its ability to provide "peak power" during the hot summer months, supporting potentially strained electricity grids and reducing the need to bring on new peaking capacity. The additional benefits of solar are enumerated below.
Utility-scale solar has the ability to stimulate needed economic development in the state; for example a 100 Megawatt Concentrating Solar Power Plant has the potential to create over 1,000 new jobs generate $370 million in private investment.2
While a complete cost-benefit analysis for distributed solar has not been conducted in Utah, a number of studies conducted nationwide suggest that on-site distributed solar can provide the following benefits:
Challenges: The challenges to solar development in Utah include: public education and understanding of solar technologies, economics, state policies and utility regulatory structure, emerging solar market, and local codes/ordinances.
A list of available state and federal incentives can be found at:
Or, visit our How To section for information on incentives by application, resource and technology.
3. Utah Clean Energy and Western Resource Advocates Comments to the Public Service Commission on Docket 08-035-78 In the Matter of Consideration of Changes to Rocky Mountain Power's Schedule No. 135 - Net Metering Service, submitted November 26, 2008.