Massachusetts has experienced remarkable growth in the adoption of solar electric systems across the state. Over the past decade, it has consistently ranked among the top 10 states for total solar capacity installed. The journey began in 2001 when Massachusetts introduced its first incentive program for solar electricity, funded by a small renewable energy charge on most electricity consumers’ bills. 

In 2006, the state had fewer than 600 solar electric systems, with a combined capacity of 3.6 megawatts (MW). Fast forward to the close of 2018, and the numbers had soared to over 89,000 systems, collectively generating 2,300 MW. A significant leap came in November 2018 with the launch of the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Energy Target (SMART) Program by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). This initiative aims to add 1,600 MW of solar capacity across the state, fostering even more growth. 

Where did this motivation to install solar come from? Residents who have installed solar electric systems have many reasons for going solar: 
  • A wise financial investment leading to savings on electricity costs.
  • Concern about pollution, the environment, and climate change. 
  • Achieving energy independence, greater control over energy choices, and stable pricing. 

Solar panels operate without emitting greenhouse gases or pollutants, and they don’t involve environmentally harmful mining for fuels or materials. When compared to the usual mix of fossil fuel power sources powering New England, each 1,000-kWh generated by a solar electric system prevents the release of 0.17 pounds of sulfur dioxide, 0.35 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and a substantial 747 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. 

Solar panels can be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Solar panels are typically made of materials such as glass, aluminum, copper, and semiconductors. When their useful lifespan ends, these materials can be reclaimed and repurposed for new solar panels or other items. Collaborative efforts between organizations like the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), manufacturers, and installers are establishing networks to responsibly repurpose or recycle components of solar electric systems nearing the end of their life cycle.  

For countless residents and business owners in Massachusetts, installing a solar electric system is a logical investment that converts abundant sunlight into electricity, reduces air pollution, slashes or eliminates monthly electricity expenses, and contributes to the local economy by generating jobs and supporting local businesses. 

Solar electric systems installed 2005-2022

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