SEIA aims for solar to generate 30 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030, but urges political assistance

The United States solar industry raised its goals for generation this week, as the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported a push for solar to represent 30 percent of U.S. electricity generation within the decade.

Previously, the SEIA had envisioned only 20 percent of that market by 2030, but it has raised that milestone higher in light of the Biden administration’s own clean energy targets, as well as the increasing effects of climate change. Accordingly, the SEIA paired its new goals with a call for action from others.

“The destructive impacts of climate change are happening now, and it’s time to reimagine our entire electricity system,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO, said. “The solar industry is leading the way in reducing electricity sector emissions, but we’ll fall far short of the 850 gigawatts we need to reach 30 percent of electricity generation by 2030 without policy action. It’s time for lawmakers to meet the urgency of this climate moment.”

Solar accounted for 56 percent of new electric generating capacity additions in the first half of this year. However, the SEIA stated that the solar industry needs to double its deployment speed to meet its new 30 percent goal, as it is currently on pace to provide only 15 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030. That will not go far enough, the organization said, to reduce emissions and meaningfully address climate change.

As of 2020, 19 GW of solar were installed across the U.S. (with a total capacity of nearly 850 GW), but to achieve the 30 percent capacity goal, the industry estimated nearly 125 GW would need to be installed annually.

Companies can only do so much without long-term policy investments and adjustments. While reckoning with hesitancy from lawmakers to pursue such investments, the SEIA noted that the benefits would be worth it: cutting electricity sector carbon emissions by 50 percent, as well as spurring more than $800 billion in private sector investment and industry growth to a workforce 1 million strong. Meanwhile, failure would have its own notables, such as rendering a goal of 95 percent CO2 reductions in the electric sector by 2035 impossible.

“This target is ambitious, but if we’re intentional and we have the right policies in place, we will create new opportunities for economic prosperity in every zip code in America,” Hopper said. “This is a once in a generation opportunity that we cannot let slip away.”

Chris Galford

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