Declaring the 2020s the Solar Energy Decade, SEIA’s President & CEO Abby Hopper made a mark at the United States Energy Association’s 15th Annual State of the Energy Industry Forum.
Speaking alongside other energy trade group chief executives Abby made it clear that solar would be the main power source of choice in the coming decade. It was a bold comment. Everyone in attendance was keenly focused on the future of American energy, and the challenges and opportunities we all face. No industry is better prepared to own the future than solar
In the same way that the advent of the internet and e-commerce defined the 90s, we expect clean energy to define the 2020s. Solar is already a meaningful player in electricity markets nationwide, but the next decade is going to see a major transformation. Solar will go from accounting for what was a fraction of generation early in this decade, to a big piece of the electricity pie. From a fringe technology to a mainstay in American energy.
The use of clean energy is soaring. Last year, a new solar project was installed every 100 seconds. Looking ahead, total installed solar capacity in the U.S. is projected to more than double over the next 5 years – with an additional 68 gigawatts of solar expected to come online, 14% more solar than has been installed throughout the industry’s entire history. Just last week, EIA released numbers that project utility-scale solar’s share of total generation in the U.S. will grow by 10% this year alone, and by 17% in 2020, joining wind as the fastest-growing sources of electricity over that time period. At SEIA, we actually think those numbers aren’t aggressive enough.
That’s why it’s no surprise that solar enjoys such broad public support. The messaging survey we conducted last fall showed that 76% of Americans think their utility should invest more in solar energy. As we look to utilities and major corporations to invest in solar energy, it’s critical to point out that their customers and shareholders are strongly in favor. What’s more, 73% of Republicans feel that the government should take action to support solar energy. Those are the kind of numbers that inspire bipartisan action.
The U.S. economy is shifting beneath our feet every day – and along with it is the U.S. consumer. We can’t expect the electricity customer of tomorrow to be satisfied with the current, tired way of doing things – they want more transparency, more reliability, more choice and more security. Solar is foundational to delivering those services.
The world is changing, and policies that support clean energy are vital – not only because we need clean sources of energy to combat climate change and protect our air and water, but also because it makes sound economic sense and will fuel job growth and private investment across the country. At SEIA, we are bringing this inevitable transition forward sooner rather than later.