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Abigail Ross Hopper Delivers Remarks on the U.S. Solar and Storage Industry at RE+ 2023

Monday, Sep 11 2023

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Abigail Ross Hopper

Welcome to Las Vegas everyone!  

It’s wonderful to see so many familiar faces in the crowd, along with so many new ones — all of you are visionaries who have made our clean energy future our reality today. Whether you serve the residential, commercial, community or utility-scale segments of our industry, your work to advance our progress is incredible.  

Last year, we reveled in our legislative win that catapulted solar and storage investment into a new era — the Inflation Reduction Act. This law has had nothing short of an extraordinary impact on the way we do business and the rate at which we can realize progress.  

As a result of the Inflation Reduction Act, the U.S. solar and storage industry will add $565 billion to our economy over the next decade, creating another half a million jobs along the way.  

Because of your commitment to expanding access to residential solar power and investing in our communities, solar now powers hundreds of thousands of businesses and neighborhoods around the country and we are a major driving force behind the global economy. Through heat waves and natural disasters, we are literally keeping the lights on in homes that would otherwise have gone dark this summer.

Many of you know how radical a shift this is from where we were just a few years ago, but I want to point out a few key areas where that change is evident.  

  • Solar is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world. We are setting records nearly every quarter and those numbers are only going to increase.  
  • And with that power comes great responsibility to get things right.   
  • We have, not just an opportunity, but a responsibility to establish American energy independence. To distance ourselves from the global demand for fossil fuels, creating a stronger energy foundation here at home. 
  • Solar and storage is leading the way in delivering affordable, reliable, homegrown clean energy. 
  • And finally, we must be intentional about building a clean energy future that uplifts everyone. We have a responsibility to make solar energy available in more communities that might be traditionally underrepresented and build an equitable and highly skilled workforce to help us deploy more clean energy and ramp up our domestic supply chain.

Let’s talk about what that means for you.  

#1: Unleashing American Energy Dominance  

Solar and stoage is already a critical part of our electricity mix, helping to harden our infrastructure and upgrade our grid.  

As we all look to electrify and decarbonize the economy, we will need to invest in homegrown energy sources that strengthen our global competitiveness and unleash American energy dominance.  

You heard Senator Ossoff talk about the incredible opportunity of U.S. clean energy manufacturing, as a direct result of the IRA. As we onshore a larger percentage of our supply chain, America will become less reliant on foreign energy sources and our opportunity to export solar and storage technology will skyrocket. 

Since the IRA passed, we’ve seen more than 59 solar manufacturing announcements. If all of these facilities come online by 2026, they would have the potential to meet 250% of our nation’s current demand for solar.

But with any quick growth come growing pains. We know our supply chain isn’t where it needs to be yet, so it’s critically important that we look for smart solutions to mitigate any challenges that could slow down the momentum that we’ve seen over the last five years.

#2: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility  

Solar and storage is now a much bigger part of our everyday lives. If we reach our 2030 goals, more than 20 million homes will have solar energy by that time. 

Millions of Americans will be considering solar for the first time over the next few years, making this a crucial time to invest in consumer education resources and establishing national standards that will ensure the safe and efficient installation of all solar and storage systems.  

As we scale up, we must onshore the solar supply chain and double down on ethical labor practices.  

As a result of this IRA-fueled growth, we’re under a microscope. From state and county officials to local landowners, and your next-door neighbor, many have an opinion about how we should operate and it’s our job to establish policies that benefit our whole industry and fight back against those that don’t.  

It may seem small but rising to meet the expectations of doing good business, means creating a strong foundation for the industry.  Things like establishing the right installation standards which the Solar Energy Industries Association recently became accredited to do.  

An example of that scope of work includes providing the solar and storage industry with a first-of-its-kind standardized tool for tracing supply chain origination.  

This also means doubling down to educate consumers and policymakers on longer-term challenges like PV recycling and interconnection to make sure we develop the strongest possible foundation for solar for generations to come.  

#3: Building an Abundant Clean Energy Future

We also have limitless potential as an industry in the Solar+ Decade.  

We are creating abundant, affordable clean energy that can uplift all communities and people.  

This abundance mindset means cleaner air, better jobs, and a thriving economy. It also means creating wealth-building opportunities and pathways to business ownership in underrepresented communities.  

But we can’t just wish for progress — we must be intentional.  

We need a data-driven approach to benchmarking this progress.  

That is why I am proud to announce that for the first time in four years, SEIA will be investing in research to reveal equity and opportunity gaps to ensure everyone has access to a successful career in this industry. You’ll see QR codes throughout the event this week, including cards on your chair. This code links to our new workforce experience survey. Please take a few minutes to participate, so we can get a clear snapshot of where our industry stands to help us chart our path forward.  

SEIA is the Leading the Transformation to Our Clean Energy Future…Today  

To sum it all up, TOGETHER, with everyone in this room and those who couldn’t make it, the team at SEIA are building a clean energy future, today.  

SEIA will continue to be your partner throughout the Solar+ Decade and beyond.  

We will navigate you through this rapidly changing landscape and continue to chart the course for expanding our solar and storage industry and demystifying complicated rules. We will also continue to be fierce advocates for you in Washington and across the country.  

Welcome to the new era of affordable, abundant, and homegrown clean energy – let’s get to work!  

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