The administration of US President Joe Biden has released a report demonstrating it is feasible for the country to meet 40 per cent of its electricity needs from solar by 2035, in a significant boost rom its current share of generation.
The Solar Futures Study describes the potential of solar energy for decarbonising the US energy sector and helping to achieve the government’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions in electricity generation by 2035.
The cost of solar has dropped drastically in recent years with technological advances and increased uptake, amid a push to decarbonise energy sectors. The International Energy Agency has projected that by 2050, solar could contribute almost 30 per cent of worldwide electricity consumption, making it the largest source of electricity.
At present, solar provides three per cent of the nation’s electricity. Biden’s Energy Department would scale up production of photovoltaics to reach 40 per cent by 2035 and 45 per cent by 2050, transforming the US energy sector and infrastructure.
In a statement, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm commented: “The study illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the US by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process.”
According to the analysis, this is possible without raising electricity prices. However, the analysis assumes that Congress would agree to fund several of the clean energy investments and policies Biden has proposed but not yet enacted. He may, however, face considerable political opposition given the scale of this ambition.
Granholm continued: “Achieving this bright future requires a massive and equitable deployment of renewable energy and strong decarbonisation policies – exactly what is laid out in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.”
In August, the US Senate passed Biden’s vast new infrastructure bill – which supports a greener economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, including a rollout of EV charging points – with bipartisan support. 19 Republicans, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, joined their Democratic colleagues to support the bill. Before it can receive executive approval, however, it must be approved by the House of Representatives.
Last week, the Biden administration announced plans to make federal lands cheaper to access for solar and wind power developers, after the renewables sector made a case for reducing lease rates and fees, arguing that this disincentivises investment and could compromise Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
Jean Scott, of the US Interior Department, told Reuters: “We recognise the world has changed since the last time we looked at this and updates need to be made.”
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