DOE releases blueprint for massive solar energy expansion in the United States

The Solar Futures Study modeled the deployment of solar energy required for a carbon-free grid. Preliminary modeling shows that decarbonising the entire energy system could result in as much as 3,000 GW of solar energy as a result of increased electrification.

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) today released the “Researching the future of solar energy,” detailing the important role solar energy will play in decarbonizing the country’s electricity grid. The study shows that solar energy has the potential to power 40% of the country’s electricity by 2035, drive extensive decarbonisation of the electricity grid and provide employment for as many as 1.5 million people – without the to raise electricity prices. The study’s findings call for massive and equitable deployment of clean energy sources, underscoring the Biden administration’s efforts to address the climate crisis and rapidly increase access to renewable energy across the country.

“The study highlights the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all homes in the US by 2035, employing as many as 1.5 million people. said the minister. of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Achieving this bright future requires a massive and equitable deployment of renewable energy and strong decarbonization policies — exactly what is enshrined in President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.”

Innovative Solar

In 2020, the US installed a record amount of solar energy – 15 GW – totaling 76 GW, representing 3% of the current electricity supply. The Solar Futures Study, conducted by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, shows that by 2035, the United States should quadruple its annual solar capacity additions and supply 1,000 GW of power to a renewable-dominant grid. By 2050, solar could deliver 1,600 GW on a carbon-free grid — producing more electricity than consumed in all residential and commercial buildings in the country today. Decarbonising the entire energy system could result in as much as 3,000 GW of solar power by 2050 as a result of increased electrification in the transportation, building and industrial sectors.

The study lays out the blueprint for achieving this milestone, which will require strong decarbonisation policies combined with massive deployment of renewable energy sources, large-scale electrification and grid modernization. The main findings of the study are:

  • A clean grid requires massive, equitable deployment of diverse, renewable energy sources – the US must install an average of 30 GW of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 and 60 GW per year from 2025-2030. The modeling of the study further shows the remainder of a decarbonised network largely supplied by wind (36%), nuclear (11%-13%), hydropower (5%-6%) and bioenergy/geothermal (1% ).
  • A low-carbon energy sector will create millions of cross-sector jobs – The study modeling shows that solar energy will employ 500,000 to 1.5 million people nationwide by 2035. And overall, the clean energy transition will generate about 3 million jobs across technologies.
  • New tools that increase grid flexibility, such as storage and advanced inverters, as well as transmission expansion, will help move solar energy to all parts of America. the electricity system. The deployment of storage provides greater flexibility and resiliency, growing from 30 GW to nearly 400 GW in 2035 and 1,700 GW in 2050. Advanced tools such as grid-forming inverters, forecasting and microgrids will play a role in maintaining the reliability and performance of a renewable energy source. dominant grid.
  • A renewable energy based network will deliver significant health and cost savings. Reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality result in savings of $1.1 trillion to $1.7 trillion, far exceeding the additional costs associated with the clean energy transition. The expected price of electricity for consumers will not rise in 2035, as the costs will be fully offset by savings from technological improvements.
  • Supportive decarbonisation policies and advanced technologies are needed to further reduce the cost of solar energy — Without a combination of carbon emissions caps and clean energy incentives, the US cannot fully decarbonise the grid — Models show that emissions from the network will drop only 60% without policy. Continued technological advances that lower the cost of solar energy are also needed to enable widespread adoption of solar energy.

News release from the US Department of Energy

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