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Abigail Ross Hopper: Welcome to the Solar+ Decade

Thursday, May 30 2019

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Abigail Ross Hopper
The Solar+ Decade

Recognizing the need for a clear vision and bold action, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has set a new goal for the solar industry: to make solar account for 20 percent of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030.

To get there, SEIA has designated the 2020s the Solar+ Decade, recognizing the fact that the industry will need to both aggressively pursue policies to facilitate solar deployment while also collaborating with other technologies to make it happen.

It is incumbent upon us to create a shared clean energy vision. It won’t be just the Solar Decade, but the Solar+ Decade where Solar + Storage, Solar + Grid Modernization, Solar + Wind, and Solar+ Overwhelming Public Support combine to define our nation’s clean energy future.  Together, we’ll write a new story for American energy in the 2020s.

As part of our planning for the next decade, we will produce a roadmap that will outline the policy, social, environmental and economic considerations needed to make the Solar+ Decade a reality.

If we achieve 20 percent solar by 2030, the potential payoff to our economy would be enormous. Picture this: solar could add more than $345 billion to the U.S. economy over the next ten years, reaching $53 billion annually. The solar workforce would grow to 600,000 professionals and Americans would enjoy greater energy choice, lower utility bills and cleaner air. Moreover, our success could prove that climate solutions don’t hurt the economy, but instead, are some of the strongest economic growth engines we’ve seen in decades.  

Meeting this target will require more than just public appetite for solar. Costs will need to decline across all market segments by nearly 50 percent and deployment will need to pick up each year. Collaboration and partnerships will be critical to our success. We’ll also need the technical expertise of researchers and the Energy Department to help us overcome the systemic challenges preventing the widescale adoption of solar.

To get us started, on May 15, I testified before the House Science Committee Subcommittee on Energy to share this bold vision and discuss areas of solar research that could help us meet this goal. While we will create a much more extensive roadmap together, I felt it was important to share industry pain points with the subcommittee—like permitting and interconnection, workforce diversity and preparedness, grid modernization and resilience, advanced manufacturing, and energy storage integration—and begin advocating for a stronger solar future today.

When we think back on the last decade, we’re going to tell the story of solar cost declines and exponential growth. We’ll talk about the tens of thousands of jobs we created and billions we added to the economy. As we look ahead to the 2020s, it will include an important shift. Solar offers a solution to some of our most pressing climate challenges and solar will play the primary role in America’s new energy mix.   

If the solar industry fails to meet our ambitious goals for U.S. electricity generation, it will be because we fail in the next couple of years lay the necessary groundwork. While it won’t be easy, it’s up to us to shape our future and create a new story for solar in the United States.

Our first steps into the Solar+ Decade start now.

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