Realizing all of the benefits of solar energy, it comes as no surprise that more and more people are making the switch. According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review,” solar-generated electricity increased by 104.8% in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010, the highest increase of any renewable energy source. This dramatic increase has not gone unnoticed, as Intersolar North America 2011, the premier solar industry exhibition and conference in North America, experienced its most successful event ever this past July in San Francisco. With a strong focus on technological advancements and national policy, over 20,000 visitors and 839 exhibiting solar companies from around the world attended the four-day event. Presenters from Bosch Solar Energy, Q-Cells, REC, AEE Solar and CALSEIA partook in panel discussions and engaged in open discussions, promoting a continued sense of growth and learning throughout the event. Despite steps of progress for the solar movement, the amount of homes in the U.S. upgraded with solar systems is about 130,000, or only 0.2% of the total residences in the U.S. But there is hope yet, as more and more people are beginning to recognize the potential savings and the beneficiary ecological effects of owning a solar system. As increasingly more commercial businesses and residential households turn to solar energy, it is evidently clear that the solar movement is on the rise, especially in states receiving abundant sunlight, such as California. Recently, the North American Development Bank (NADB) signed a $77.4m loan agreement for the construction of a 23MW solar energy generation plant in Imperial Valley within California. The project will generate enough energy for approximately 14,000 homes, and is slated to cut carbon dioxide production by nearly one million metric tons over the next 40 years. Solar neighborhoods, an idea that seemed farfetched not too long ago, are slowly becoming more popular in the U.S., particularly in states such as California, Arizona, and New Mexico. With its plentiful sunlight, California is doing its part in paving the way for the U.S. towards a brighter future.

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