The Solar+ Decade, 2020 - 2030 – Leading the Energy Transition; Roadmap for Building The Solar+ Economy
September 2019 (Solar Energy Industries Association)
This roadmap offers a vision for the radical transformation of the nation’s energy system. It articulates where the solar industry stands today, sets the industry’s goal for the next decade and outlines the steps we must take to get there. The pages that follow will explain how the solar industry will expand exponentially from comprising 2.4% of the U.S. electricity mix today to 20% of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030.
This is an ambitious but achievable goal. Critically, none of it will happen without a collaborative, well-funded effort led by a strong national trade association.
We have identified four significant pillars of our plan to reach 20% by 2030 through radical market transformation:
• We must work constructively with other industries and organizations that share our vision of radical market transformation. While our goal is predicated on solar penetration, we envision an electricity portfolio comprised of 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, infrastructure, wind energy and any number of other technologies that will advance the solar vision and transform our markets.
• There are a number of market accelerators that can increase solar energy adoption. Capitalizing on these accelerators, including energy storage, carbon reduction goals and electrification, 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, investment tax credit extension, state net energy metering, 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 manage our growth. Whether it is gaining a social license to operate by being good stewards of the land, proactively addressing recycling, modernizing the grid to allow for more solar deployment, protecting customers or ensuring a diverse customer base and workforce, we have to show that we are growing in a responsible way.
Why set this goal of 20% by 2030 and articulate a vision of radical market transformation? Because, when we achieve this goal, we will have generated 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, replacing more than 150 polluting power plants. And, when done with intentionality, we will grow prosperity for all Americans by creating economic opportunity and clean abundant electricity for our communities.
Throughout this report, we outline actionable steps that must be undertaken to realize the 20% goal. Key actions include:
Short-term (one to two years)
• Extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit.
• Reduce trade barriers
• Expand on state-level coordination with partners to strategically plan nation-wide solar advocacy
• Strengthen trade association technical capacity and resources to further engage in regulatory proceedings, including FERC, RTO/ISO and state bodies.
• Develop shared policy priorities in the pan-renewable space.
• Begin crafting policy priorities for carbon legislation that will provide certainty and maximize opportunity for the solar industry.
Mid-term (three to five years)
• Be the voice of clean technology in the climate policy debate, including crafting carbon legislative priorities that will maximize opportunities for solar.
• Achieve adoption of SolarAPP. • Position solar + storage as the marginal generation resource (i.e., the best, cheapest and most capable) in state and utility resource planning and procurement.
• Build a self-sustaining, nationwide PV Recycling Network.
• Build a workforce that better reflects our country.
• Expand the U.S. solar supply chain and build out both new and underutilized solar technologies, including photovoltaic (PV), solar heating and cooling and concentrating solar power technologies.
• Create a vision for longer-term financing mechanisms.
Long-term (five years and beyond)
• Fully-fund a 50-state policy strategy.
• Build new transmission to support solar growth, including lines that provide regional and system-wide renewable energy and reliability benefits.
• Work to build solar powered infrastructure that serves as a national network supporting the full electrification of the transportation sector.
• Establish a sophisticated, locally-driven solar engagement plan to support solar expansion.
SEIA is well positioned to lead this radical transformation and be the lynchpin for the aggressive collaboration that is needed. However, the solar industry writ large will need to actively engage on all of the areas identified in this roadmap. It will be a transformative and prosperous journey for those in the solar industry today, and the thousands of new companies and hundreds of thousands of workers who will join us on the road ahead…
…The Vision…Collaboration…Market Accelerators…Market Levers & Policy Drivers…Managing Growth…
While the 20% 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. The strategic areas of focus outlined in this roadmap have been identified by industry leaders as factors that will have significant impact on long-term growth.
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 2 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.
As the national trade association for solar, and an organization committed to building a unified vision for America’s clean energy future, SEIA is laser-focused on delivering concrete results that will make the 20% goal a reality. Through the deliverables and next steps outlined in this roadmap, and with strategic and intensive collaboration with allies across disciplines, we can remove barriers and create the necessary environment for a strong clean energy future for America.
Reading this roadmap is only the beginning. Here are some steps you need to take to help support this ambitious growth for solar and clean energy in the U.S.:
☐ Support SEIA’s advocacy – many of the policy drivers outlined in this document will require extensive lobbying at the local, state and federal level. We are up against established interests with significant resources, and the only way to ensure favorable outcomes is to invest in a strong association to deliver advocacy wins.
☐ Engage with the political process – the most effective voice in any effort to persuade policymakers or the public is yours. Build relationships with your elected officials at all levels of government and engage in grasstops advocacy efforts. Engage with the SolarPAC to help the industry support solar champions on Congress.
☐ Invest in public and regulatory affairs – dramatic increases in solar penetration will require new customers who are not as familiar with the benefits of solar, and policy victories can only be achieved with active engagement from the voting public and from solar industry members. Supporting public awareness campaigns and public affairs work at the state and national levels will pay long-term dividends for the industry.
☐ Lead the industry with integrity – As advocates for a clean, affordable energy future for America, we have to grow in ways that protect consumers, communities and our land; meet the highest standards of health & safety; and build a vibrant workforce that reflects the diversity of our population. Your dedication to these pursuits will be critical in the years to come.