WASHINGTON (AP) — A new federal report says solar energy has the potential to power up to 40% of the nation’s electricity within 15 years — a 10-fold increase over current solar output.
However, it would require massive changes in U.S. policy and billions of dollars in federal investment to modernize the nation’s electric grid.
The report by the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy says the U.S. would need to quadruple its annual solar capacity as it shifts to a renewable-dominant grid as it moves to address the existential threat posed by climate change.
The report is not meant to be a policy statement or a goal from the Biden administration. Instead, the director of the Energy Department’s solar energy technologies office says the report is designed to guide and inspire the next decade of solar innovation by answering questions.
Those questions include: “How fast does solar need to increase capacity and to what level? How would such a large amount of solar energy impact the grid, the economy, and the solar industry? What technical advances are needed? How do we ensure access for all Americans?”
In a statement, Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said that 1.5 million people could be employed in the process of reaching 40% solar power across the nation by 2035.
“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,” said Granholm.
The report comes as President Joe Biden warned it’s time for America to get serious about the “code red” danger posed by climate change or face increasing loss of life and property.