This is an edited extract from the executive summary and chapter on achievability of “The New Solar+ Decade Roadmap: 30% by 2030” by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
This roadmap offers a vision for the radical transformation and decarbonization of the U.S. electricity system. It articulates where the solar industry stands today, establishes new goals for the next decade and outlines the steps to be taken. It explains how the solar industry will expand exponentially from comprising 3.7% of the U.S. electricity mix today to 30% of all electricity generation by 2030. This will put solar on pace to provide essential reliability services, deploy with storage for resilient community infrastructure and fully decarbonize the electric grid by 2035.
When SEIA established the original Solar+ Decade goal (20% of generation by 2030) in 2019, it was seen as an ambitious but achievable goal. In light of historic changes – shifting political dynamics, increased urgency to address climate change and changes in market dynamics – the potential for solar growth has only increased. However, this transformation requires a collaborative, well-funded effort led by a strong national trade association.
SEIA has identified four pillars of our strategy to reach 30% by 2030 through radical market transformation:
- We must work constructively with other industries and organizations that share our vision. While our goal is predicated on solar penetration, we envision an electricity portfolio comprised of multiple clean energy sources and technologies. Our ethos must be “aggressive collaboration.” We must be impactful and unabashed as we work with other stakeholders to advance storage, transmission and distribution infrastructure, wind energy and any number of other technologies that will advance the solar vision and transform energy markets.
- There are a number of market accelerators that can increase solar energy adoption. Capitalizing on these accelerators, including energy storage deployment, electrification of thermal loads and transportation and carbon reduction goals, will be critical to meeting our 2030 goal.
- Market levers and policy drivers will play central roles in whether or not the solar industry reaches its destination. Climate policy, federal tax policy, state net energy metering rules, strong industrial policy and manufacturing investments, building codes and renewable portfolio standards all drive solar energy growth. Other factors include regional energy market rules, access to financing and opportunities to further reduce costs.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must continue to manage our growth. Our industry must build a robust and ethical domestic supply chain, earn a social license to operate by being good stewards of the land, proactively address recycling and end-of-life management, modernize the grid to facilitate more solar deployment, ensure smart trade policy, protect customers and develop a diverse customer base and workforce, among many other priorities.
Why set this goal of 30% by 2030 and articulate a vision of radical market transformation? Because, when we achieve this goal, we will have deployed hundreds of billions of dollars in investment and created hundreds of thousands of American jobs. We will reduce carbon emissions by hundreds of millions of tons and make a significant contribution to addressing climate change. And we will increase prosperity for all Americans by creating economic opportunity and clean abundant electricity for all of our communities.
While the 30% by 2030 goal is certainly achievable, it is not inevitable. The industry’s march to 2030 must be immediate, aggressive, collaborative and national in scope. Failure to move quickly and decisively will result in significant adverse consequences for addressing climate change, and will leave billions of dollars in private investment and hundreds of thousands of new career opportunities on the table.
To fundamentally reshape our future, we must invest our resources on these issues, and put our political clout behind them. To successfully develop policies that drive growth, and to mitigate potential risks, we will need active engagement from outside of the solar industry. Solar energy enjoys broad public support, and is favored across the political spectrum as an energy source of the future. Taken as a whole, there is increasing public demand for all forms of clean energy, and it is incumbent upon us to capture this enthusiasm and turn it into meaningful action that will achieve results.
There are more than 3 million Americans with a residential solar system, and some of the nation’s most successful and recognizable corporate brands are turning to solar and other clean energy sources to power their businesses. We need to convert these customers into advocates, and use this clout to achieve policy victories.
Solar and other clean energy technologies are up against entrenched and well-funded interests. Our fundraising and advocacy will need to expand to make the Solar+ vision a reality. Continuing to build a robust political action presence, through the SolarPAC and other means, will be a key priority. Strategic partnerships are also critical for this work. Identifying outside interests, such as the
environmental community, labor, conservative organizations, or rural economic development groups, to align with at key moments will help increase pressure on lawmakers.
It will also be important to recognize that the changing energy landscape will create challenges for incumbent energy providers and their employees and investors. Helping these companies and individuals manage the energy transition must be an important part of the solar+ decade.
The complete roadmap can be accessed here