The Chart That Shows Why the Solar-Powered Future Has Arrived

More than one record was broken in June. Scarily, it was the hottest month on record as global temperatures continue to rise thanks to climate change. More happily, United States solar power plants in June smashed the record for generating carbon-free electricity from the sun, another sign that renewable energy is increasingly becoming competitive with fossil fuels.

So-called utility-scale solar power plants—those with a capacity of 1 megawatt or more—produced 2,765 gigawatt-hours of electricity in June, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. (One megawatt can power about 164 American homes.)

That’s nearly 36 percent more power than was generated in June 2014. The power surge matches a building boom in photovoltaic power plants, which deploy tens of thousands of solar panels like those found on residential rooftops. Over the past year, the nation’s photovoltaic power plant capacity jumped 47.5 percent.

The news comes on the heels of a report from the International Energy Agency that found that renewable energy is starting to rival coal and other fossil fuels.

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