Iowa could generate 7 million gigawatt hours of solar photovoltaic energy, an amount that far exceeds the 57,000 gigawatt hours generated in the state by coal, gas, wind and nuclear energy combined in 2010, according to a report released last month. "The potential for solar in Iowa is quite significant," said Nathaniel Baer, energy program director for the Des Moines-based Iowa Environmental Council, which released the report. The report said the amount of energy the state could realistically produce would actually place it 16th in the nation, ahead of Florida and Georgia, "even though as much or possibly more sun reaches those states." Baer said it was difficult to determine exactly where the state currently ranks in solar power generation. "We're kind of lumped in with a third of states that lag from behind," he said. But Iowans are already beginning to embrace solar power. The state's $1.5 million solar tax credit program, established to spur investment in the construction of solar arrays, was maxed out last year, and the state carried over $471,000 in tax credit requests into this year. Baer said if the state added 300 megawatts of solar energy annually over the next five years it could create an average of 2,500 jobs each year and generate enough energy to power 39,000 homes for a year. (DES MOINES REGISTER)
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