A report prepared by the Energy Department and National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that the U.S. could increase its solar power generation from the current 3% to 40% by 2035. To achieve this feat, the federal government would need to invest less than $562 billion and support related policies.
The report further shows that solar power could be scaled up to generate 50% of U.S. energy by 2050. According to the report, generating solar energy has become affordable thanks to the falling costs in the industry.
To achieve 50%, U.S. solar capacity must reach 1,600 gigawatts. This would cover more than the total electricity consumed by commercial and residential buildings.
Though “not intended as a policy statement,” the report may offer inspiration for policymakers. As Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Energy Department’s solar energy technologies office, said, the report is “designed to guide and inspire the next decade of solar innovation by helping us answer questions like: How fast does solar need to increase capacity and to what level?”
The report also addressed the economic implications of expanding solar systems in the U.S. When it comes to green energy, many people debate how it will impact jobs in the energy sector. Those who oppose energy reforms claim that the oil and coal industries provide jobs to millions of Americans and are the backbone of the economy. Would a shift to renewable energy be able to replace the jobs lost in coal and oil?
According to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, if solar, the “cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035,” it could “employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process.”
Further, transitioning to solar energy could generate an estimated $1.7 trillion in economic gain via reduced health costs associated with air pollution.
Lead image via Pixabay