Solar could power 40% of the US electricity by 2035: report

Solar energy has the potential to supply up to 40 percent of USA’s electricity within 15 years – a 10-fold increase over current solar output. However, it would require massive changes in the US policy and billions of dollars in federal investment to modernize the nation’s electric grid noted a new federal report by the US Department of Energy (DOE0’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

According to the report, the United States would need to quadruple their annual solar capacity – and continue to increase it year by year – as it shifts to a renewable-dominant grid in order to address the existential threat posed by climate change.

The report comes shortly after President Joe Biden declared climate change has become “everybody’s crisis ” and that 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.

The US has installed a record 15 gigawatts of solar generating capacity in 2020, and solar now represents just over 3 per cent of the current electricity supply, the Energy Department said.

The “Solar Futures Study,” prepared by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, shows that, by 2035, the country would need to quadruple its yearly solar capacity additions and provide 1,000 gigawatts of power to a renewable-dominant grid. By 2050, solar energy could provide 1,600 gigawatts on a zero-carbon grid – producing more electricity than consumed in all residential and commercial buildings in the country today, the report said. Decarbonizing the entire energy system could result in as much as 3,000 gigawatts of solar by 2050 due to increased electrification in the transportation, buildings, and industrial sectors, the report said.

The report assumes that clean-energy policies currently being debated in Congress will drive a 95 percent reduction from 2005 levels in the grid’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2035, and a 100 percent reduction by 2050. To achieve 40 percent solar power by 2035, the US must install an average of 30 gigawatts of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 – double its current rate – and 60 gigawatts per year from 2025 to 2030, the report said.

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