The Biden administration released a report on Wednesday, Sept. 8, that claims that by 2035—the United States can get 40% of its electricity from solar power.
The report, called the Solar Futures Study, describes how solar energy can help decarbonize the U.S. power grid to reach the current administration’s proposed goal of achieving “net zero emissions” in the electricity sector by 2035.
In addition to strong decarbonization policies, the report envisions massive deployment of renewable energy sources, large-scale electrification, and grid modernization.
“The study illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
The report lays out several steps the U.S. should take to achieve the 40% target, including installing 30 gigawatts per year of solar capacity between now and 2025.
The U.S. solar industry said the report underscores the need for “significant policy” support, according to Reuters.
More than 700 companies sent a letter to Congress requesting a long-term extension of a solar investment tax credit, which would “alleviate project financing challenges” and include stand-alone energy storage.
Meanwhile, the report assumes that Congress would fund several of the clean energy investments and policies that have been proposed by Biden but not yet enacted.
“Achieving this bright future requires a massive and equitable deployment of renewable energy and strong decarbonization polices—exactly what is laid out in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda,” Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
According to research firm Rystad Energy, the Biden administration’s goal of decarbonizing the energy sector by 2035 would require an area larger than the Netherlands for solar alone, not counting wind.
Reactions on social media
The Biden administration’s report elicited different reactions on social media, both for and against the project.
“A new blueprint from the Biden administration Solar, our cheapest & fastest-growing source of #CleanEnergy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035 & employ as many as 1.5 million people,” wrote green energy activist Peter Strachan.
“Ramping up clean, solar power means lower energy bills, good-paying jobs, and less pollution. And I’m all for putting the Sun with rays into the “Sunshine State!” Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Climate Crisis Committee, wrote.
“Utterly impossible. Let me guess, Hunter’s starting a solar panel company?” Jon Gabriel, Ricochet’s editor-in-chief, wrote wryly.
“I think solar should be a large part of the energy mix. If it gets to 20%, I’d be really happy. Set achievable goals and you won’t have to deal with large scale policy failure,” wrote Jeff Terry, professor, and energy researcher at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Rapid growth of solar energy in the U.S.
Solar energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the U.S. Costs have dropped by 90% in the last decade, thanks to competition in the market.
Due to the premise of achieving U.S. energy independence during the Trump administration, many might think that only fossil fuel industries were given the opportunity for growth. However, data reveals that solar energy experienced record growth during the Trump administration.
In March 2020, Scientific American reported on the explosive record of solar energy use in the United States.
The CEO of booming DEPCOM Power, Johnnie Taul, says it’s no coincidence that the solar industry saw its strongest growth in history under the Trump administration.
“Trump wasn’t necessarily promoting solar, but what he did do was reduce taxes on corporations. He rolled back regulations,” Taul said in an interview.
“What that did [Trump] was create an environment that was perfectly suited for competitive U.S. businesses to flourish. And with the economics today of utility scale solar, it was the right environment for that technology and businesses like ours to grow exponentially,” he added.
Taul believes that with lower taxes and fewer regulations, solar companies have more capital to invest, expand their operations and hire workers.