On September 8, 2021, the Biden administration announced that the United States aims to produce 45% of electricity from solar energy sources by 2050.
This announcement was made alongside the release of the Department of Energy’s report that outlines the aim to have 40% of all electricity sourced from solar power by 2035 and 45% by 2050. This transition to solar power represents a significant increase over the U. S’s current solar output of 3%.
The push towards solar comes amid the rise in devasting weather catastrophes that have plagued much of the U.S. and the rest of the world. In visiting the neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Ida, President Bident stated that climate change is “everybody’s crisis” and is something “we can’t turn back very much, but we can prevent from getting worse”.
Roadmap to 45% Solar Output
To reach 45% solar output, the U.S. would need to quadruple its annual solar capacity. In 2020, 15 gigawatts of solar generating capacity were installed in the U.S., and 1,000 gigawatts of power is required to reach the 2035 target.
The DOE’s report outlines that the U.S. must double its current rate of installing solar capacity and install an average of 30 gigawatts annually between now and 2025. Between 2025 and 2030, this average must increase to 60 gigawatts per year.
According to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, if the US reaches these solar targets, “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”.
Designed to Guide
Becca Jone-Albertus, Director of the DOE’s solar energy technologies, emphasized that the report was “designed to guide” renewable policy and is not a statement from the administration.
However, a push towards solar aligns with other recent Biden administration decarbonization announcements including, plans for 50% of all cars sold in the U.S. to be zero-emission in the next 10-years. The administration is also waiting for Congress to approve spending $1 Trillion to reinforce national infrastructure including, electrical grids and water and sewer systems, for added defense against climate change-related disasters.
The Cost to Curb Climate Change
An estimated $562 billion in additional costs is required to develop the needed infrastructure through 2050. This figure, however, is dependent upon future technological advances for the acquisition and storage of green energy.
This investment would yield large returns according to the report, which estimates a potential $1.7 trillion in savings from “curbing climates damages and improving air quality”.
In support of these targets, over 700 companies sent a letter to Congress looking for an extension of solar investment tax credit to reduce financing challenges for the project.