The History of Solar Energy in Grand Junction

Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of the Western Slope, Grand Junction, Colorado, has a rich history intertwined with the development and utilization of solar energy. From its early days as a remote frontier outpost to its emergence as a hub for renewable energy innovation, Grand Junction’s journey with solar power reflects the evolution of clean, renewable energy technology and its integration into local communities.

Before we delve into its entwined history with solar innovation, we must understand what makes the city so special in relation to harnessing renewable energy from the sun. 

What Makes Grand Junction Special?

Grand Junction, Colorado boasts several characteristics that make it the ideal location for solar energy development. Firstly, the state enjoys abundant sunshine, with over 300 days of sunshine per year in many areas, providing a consistent and reliable source of solar irradiance. The high altitude of Colorado further enhances sunlight intensity, increasing the efficiency of solar panels.

Secondly, Colorado has vast expanses of open land, particularly in rural areas and deserts, which are well-suited for large-scale solar installations such as solar farms. This availability of land reduces land use conflicts and allows for the development of utility-scale solar projects.

Lastly, Colorado also has a supportive policy environment for solar energy, including renewable energy standards, net metering policies, and financial incentives such as tax credits and rebates. These policies encourage investment in solar energy infrastructure and make it financially attractive for both residential and commercial users to adopt solar power systems.

Grand Junction & Solar Energy

The story of solar energy in Grand Junction traces back to the region’s indigenous peoples, who revered the sun as a source of life and sustenance. For centuries, Native American tribes such as the Ute, Apache, and Navajo relied on solar energy for agriculture, heating, and spiritual ceremonies, harnessing the power of the sun to thrive in the parched desert environment.

In the 19th century, upon the arrival of European settlers, homesteads and farms were established in the Grand Valley. They relied on solar-powered irrigation systems, utilizing sunlight to pump water from the Colorado River to irrigate crops and orchards. These early innovations laid the foundation for Grand Junction’s agricultural prosperity, demonstrating the practical benefits of solar energy in water management and food production.

The 20th century witnessed significant advancements in solar technology and the emergence of Grand Junction as a focal point for solar research and development. In 1976, Grand Junction made history by hosting the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), now known as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), on the campus of Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University). 

SERI was established by the U.S. Department of Energy to advance research and development in solar energy technologies, including photovoltaics, solar thermal, and passive solar design. The presence of SERI in Grand Junction catalyzed local interest and investment in solar energy, positioning the city as a pioneering force in renewable energy research and innovation.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Grand Junction continued to play a pivotal role in the advancement of solar energy, with researchers at SERI collaborating with industry partners, academic institutions, and government agencies to develop groundbreaking solar technologies. These efforts led to significant breakthroughs in solar cell efficiency, manufacturing processes, and grid integration, laying the groundwork for the widespread adoption of solar energy across the United States and around the world.

In the early 2000s, Grand Junction experienced a solar renaissance, driven by growing collective awareness of climate change, rising energy costs, and the need for energy independence. Local governments, businesses, and homeowners began investing in solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to generate clean electricity and reduce their carbon footprint. Grand Junction’s abundant sunshine, coupled with state and federal incentives for renewable energy, made solar power an attractive option for residents and businesses looking to embrace sustainability.

Grand Junction Today

Today, Grand Junction stands at the forefront of the solar energy revolution. In fact, Colorado was the first state in the nation to establish a Renewable Portfolio Standard for its electric utilities. It has even noticed a growth of 26.9% in Solar Generation in the year of 2022. 

With an increasing number of homes, schools, and businesses harnessing the power of the sun to meet their energy needs. Solar installations dot the rooftops of residential neighborhoods, while large-scale solar farms and utility-scale projects harness the vast expanses of the desert land surrounding the area. These solar installations not only provide clean, renewable energy but also stimulate the community, allowing it to thrive. 

Looking ahead, Grand Junction continues to embrace solar energy as a key component of its sustainable development strategy. With advancements in solar technology, energy storage, and grid integration, the city aims to achieve greater energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote environmental stewardship for future generations. As Grand Junction continues to harness the power of the sun, it remains a shining example of how solar energy can transform communities and pave the way towards a brighter, more sustainable future for us all. 

Choose Atlasta Solar Center

For 45 years, Atlasta Solar Center has been dedicated to ensuring that the residents of Grand Junction, CO get the best that solar energy has to offer through bringing to life our dream of communities fueled by the sun’s renewable energy. 

Founded in 1979, and working with abundant sunshine of Western Colorado since, we’ve diligently pursued this vision, and our commitment remains unwavering. Positioned as the sole solar power provider on the Western Slope, and one of the few across Colorado, we pride ourselves on maintaining a stocked inventory of solar panels, readily available for installation without the need for ordering beforehand. 

This unique advantage enables us to embark on projects promptly, ensuring swift progress and timely completion. Our steadfast presence and extensive experience in the industry live up to our reliability and expertise. 

We invite you to be part of the movement towards clean, affordable energy by reaching out to us today. 

Grand Junction Office

  • Phone: (970) 248-0057
  • Fax: (970) 248-0094
  • Hours: Mon – Fri – 8 am – 4 pm
  • 1111 South 7th Street, Grand Junction, CO 81501

Montrose Office