Solar Energy Industry Association Releases Solar Vision Agenda to Make USA 100% Sustainable
Alex "Solar Girl" Steele
The Solar Energy Industry Association, a national nonprofit collaboration of thousands of solar companies in the United States, made news recently with their 2021 agenda for clean power development. SEIA’s Solar Vision plan details their intentions of working within the framework of the incoming Biden administration to maximize the proliferation of solar development. Beyond adding as much solar to the grid as possible, SEIA forecasts that this plan will add tens of thousands of new jobs to the labor force and aggressively strategize to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The Solar Vision is part of the Solar+ Decade Agenda released by SEIA in early 2020, a long-term plan designed to boost the development of solar power so that it produces 20% of all energy consumed in the United States by 2030. In addition to supporting the growth of solar, it also intends to increase the utilization of battery storage and other alternative energy sources, to help strengthen the nation’s energy independence and lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Of course, adding more clean energy generation to the grid is a positive because it helps us reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change, but simply interconnecting as many clean energy systems to the grid as possible won’t solve the more nuanced energy-related problems impacting our environment and economy. That’s why SEIA’s outline also seeks to make clean energy more accessible and equitable for all, leveling the playing field between multinational energy corporations and working class Americans.
Beyond PV development, the Solar+ Decade plan involves the development of more financing opportunities for all income brackets, extending tax benefits, and diversifying the industry to make clean energy employment accessible to all demographics. These aspects of the plan involve supporting organizations and policies that will lower the barriers to go solar, making solar financing opportunities a reality for households that may not reach typical income or credit score requirements; as well as challenging large solar developers to pledge to recruit a more diverse workforce. The end goal of this plan is to transform the clean energy industry into one that can go blow-for-blow with fossil fuels in terms of price and labor demand, and scale into a bigger piece of the energy matrix.
When solar technology first entered the market, it was much more expensive than it is now; the opportunity to go solar was only realistic to those with the capital to source it themselves. Over the years, the goalposts have been lowered, and now financing is available for more families than ever before, but many households still struggle to see solar as a feasible option. This hinders not only the expansion of solar in the energy mix, it also threatens public health. Our founder Ted Strzelecki has touched on this issue in his own work, so we are excited to see that SEIA is making it a national topic. Studies show that low-income neighborhoods are more adversely impacted by climate change and carbon emissions; they have higher rates of asthma and other diseases linked to pollution and struggle to bounce back from natural disasters as easily as affluent ones. By enabling the development of solar in communities that will benefit the most from fighting climate change, we promote equality and shrink the gap between economic classes in our country.
The final aspect of the Solar Vision goes beyond American shores and spreads the clean energy revolution worldwide. The Solar+ Trade element of the plan seeks to support fair and free trade in the industry, ensuring that workers who harvest the raw materials for PV technology are paid adequately and can work in safe conditions. As an open energy company, Solar Wolf strives to source ethically produced equipment whenever possible, so hearing about SEIA’s plans to establish fair trade as a mainstay in the solar industry is particularly exciting! It also strives to remove tariffs that have cost the United States tens of thousands of green jobs and over 10 gigawatts of solar projects, and bring home some solar jobs that are currently outsourced. This will boost our spot in the ranks of countries that utilize the most solar energy, and play a role in making the industry (and global trade as a whole) more equitable.
Overall, this comprehensive proposal seeks to directly and indirectly support the goal of building solar energy up to occupy 20% of the national energy matrix. Accomplishing this goal would be great not only for our industry, but for the American workforce and the whole world’s environmental health! As the new year approaches and a new presidential administration is preparing to take the helm, the team at Solar Wolf Energy looks forward to keeping up with SEIA’s Solar Vision progress as we all strive to make the world cleaner and greener.