Choja | E + | Getty Images
The White House on Wednesday outlined a plan that would see solar power supply nearly half of the country's electricity by 2050. The ambitious target is for solar energy to increase from 3% of generation in 2020 to 40% by 2035 and eventually reach 45% by 2050.
Achieving these goals requires high spending across all industries. U.S. solar installations hit a record high in 2020, but annual additions of solar capacity must double annually through 2025 before quadrupling each year between 2025 and 2030 from 2020 levels over the past decade.
The report from the U.S. Department of Energy on Solar Energy Technologies and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says solar capacity must reach 1,600 gigawatts by 2050. This is more than the total electricity consumption of residential and commercial buildings today.
The solar power target is based on the Biden government's larger plan to have an emission-free grid by 2035, with the broader energy system being decarbonized by 2050. Other carbon-free energy sources, particularly wind, would not be solar powered.
"The study highlights the fact that solar energy, our cheapest and fastest growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power every household in the US by 2035, employing up to 1.5 million people in the process," Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
The report comes as extreme weather events fueled by climate change ravage the US grid.
"This is Code Red," President Biden said Tuesday when visiting Hurricane Ida-hit areas in New York and New Jersey. “Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives and our economy. And the threat is there; it won't get any better. … The nation and the world are in danger, ”he added.
The language of the President is reminiscent of that of UN Secretary General António Guterres when he described the latest IPCC report as the "Red Code for Humanity".
In order for the US to achieve its goals, significant developments must be made in terms of network flexibility, including energy storage and transmission expansion.
The infrastructure package passed by the Senate in August includes billions of dollars for clean energy projects, but several key measures have been left out, including the expansion of tax credits. However, these and other initiatives could still be included in the $ 3.5 trillion budget resolution approved by the House of Representatives in August.