The US has set itself some tough targets to combat climate change, but which is the right solution? Officials have been experimenting with solar solutions, smart grids, tidal and wind power, but the latest polls – and market developments – have shown solar is the choice for the wise.

Solar power has been backed by leading executives at the Next Generation Utility North America (NGU NA) committee, who will be meeting to hear from Julia Hamm, Executive Director of the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) on the future of solar in the US and the ways which electric utilities must prepare. As the level of distributed solar increases there will be a need for photovoltaic (PV) systems to provide their host utility with much greater awareness, control and grid support functions than what is being implemented today. Utilities also need to explore business models that incorporate solar in a way that adds value for shareholders, stakeholders, and society at large.

In 2009, for instance, the solar industry continued to grow significantly, despite the economic downturn, which is an indication of the technology's staying power. From single-panel micro-systems and residential and commercial rooftops, to the opening of the country's largest photovoltaic power plant, the solar industry continued to expand to over 2 gigawatts of generating capacity in the US.

“We expect 2010 to be a breakout year for the US solar industry,” says the NGU NA committee, “The right policies and industry innovation continues to drive solar growth across America. Now we’re talking gigawatts of solar, not megawatts.”

The best strategies and how to implement them are sure to create much debate, and with energy giants clashing at the latest NGT NA summit, we wait expectedly for the results.

Great ideas have come and gone, and with environmental impacts top of the list for governments across the globe, the implementation of these ‘ideas’ need to be discussed amongst industry professionals.

SEPA is dedicated to helping utilities make smart solar decisions, which will decrease environmental impact as well as reduce energy costs in the long-term. With energy conservation and other green practices emerging as a critical part of day-to-day utility operations, SEPA hopes to lead the NGU Committee towards a more sustainable tomorrow.

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