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US report shows Solar build paid back in 6 months, huge job swing

This is the type of finding that you just find you cannot believe, you check the figures but no matter how you do them, they give the same result. A US consultant has just worked out what would happen if Pennsylvania swapped out 10% of its power generation for solar – result cost reduction of $619 million a year, the creation of 65,000 jobs. We presume it is quietly lining up the finance now.

It would cost around $300 million to complete the switch, making the system pay for itself in 6 months. The report was written by independent power analytics firm PowerGem

It suggests this change could also lower wholesale electric prices across the multi-state utility power grid, PJM Interconnection, by $3 billion annually.

“We know that solar delivers ‘peak shaving’ and new jobs at multiples of the rates in other sectors. The news is the rapid drop in the investment cost to get there”

The modeling study was completed to a future scenario where 7.5 GW of solar generation is deployed in Pennsylvania, enough to supply about 10% of the in-state electric load.

In the study, energy savings and wholesale price reductions result when solar generates peak power with no additional cost during the hours of the day when demand is highest and generation costs are at their peak, a concept known as “peak shaving” or “price suppression.” For example, solar arrays generate more power on hot sunny days, just as consumers start up air conditioners, offsetting maximum energy demand.

“We know that solar delivers ‘peak shaving’ and new jobs at multiples of the rates in other sectors. The news is the rapid drop in the investment cost to get there,” said Brent Alderfer, CEO at Community Energy Inc. “This study confirms the winning economics of solar at scale, and we are excited to be a part of bringing the fastest growing energy sector in the world to Pennsylvania.” We wonder how much cheaper that might be without Donald Trump’s tariffs?

Data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that the ramp up to 10% solar in Pennsylvania would bring $10 billion in new private investment into the state and create jobs for electricians, surveyors, design and civil engineers, real estate agents, and geotechnical analysts, along with the full range of construction, operation and maintenance jobs.

And all this can be accommodated with what the report describes as “moderate transmission upgrades” to maintain grid reliability, and it says that the costs associated upgrades would be covered by routine solar costs of interconnection.

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