Surprisingly, residential and commercial Solar Power are both viable and cost effective in the Seattle area, particularly so throughout the Northwest region. Although the higher latitudes of the Northwest receive fewer annual hours of sunlight than southern regions, solar panels operate with greater efficiency in cooler climates, making Seattle and the Northwest an excellent place for solar electric power.
Our region has long summer days, including many months with high levels of solar radiation. Even though winters in the Northwest are often overcast, solar radiation penetrates the clouds and power can be generated on most cloudy days. Even baseball is finding ways to save energy costs to pay for those lights. See how Solar at Safeco field has helped the Seattle Mariners to cut costs.
In a country whose latitude is comparable to Seattle in the south and southeast Alaska in the north, Germany has become the world's leader in photovoltaic panel and system installations. Additionally, Germany has a goal of attaining 35% of its energy needs using renewable energy technologies by 2020. Some sources report an expectation of meeting 100% of all Germany's energy needs by 2050 using renewable technology.
Although it has a reputation for being frequently overcast, Seattle and the Northwest receive more than enough direct and radiant sunlight to meet its energy needs using solar. While the region’s highest solar power generating potential is in southeastern Oregon and southern Idaho, there really are no “bad” solar sites. Even the rainiest areas receive almost half the solar energy as the deserts of California. The entire Northwest region receives more solar energy than the country of Germany, the world leader in solar-powered electricity generation.