Author: Solar Industry Association (SEIA)   Published: 9/23/19

solar plus roadmap gif

SALT LAKE CITY and WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of the first steps into the Solar+ Decade, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released a roadmap that puts solar energy on a path to reaching 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. The roadmap is a 10-year strategic vision for the solar industry that highlights both opportunities and systemic challenges the industry will need to overcome to reach its goals.

“The Solar+ Decade represents opportunity and a paradigm shift as we transform energy use in America,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “When we hit this goal, by 2030 we will more than double our workforce and add $345 billion in private investment, all while offsetting electricity sector emissions by 35%. But we can’t get there on momentum alone. We’ll need policies, alliances, and action from every member of the industry to make these goals a reality,” she continued.

Earlier this year, SEIA laid claim to the 2020s, as the Solar+ Decade to signify the leading role solar and its partners will play in reimagining our energy landscape. The roadmap spells out the benefits of reaching 20% solar by 2030, as well as the collaborations, policy mechanisms, and growth management the industry will need to make solar the leading source of new electricity generation.

solar installations to reach 20 percent by 2030

To achieve this goal, the solar industry will need to consider:

  • Collaborations: A cohesive solar industry and external partnerships will be key to the industry’s success. Partnerships with storage, wind, and other technologies will be critical to advance grid infrastructure and change how we generate, distribute and consume energy.
  • Market Accelerators: Economic and political forces outside of the solar industry, like energy storage, carbon reduction goals, and the further electrification of our economy have their own momentum and solar will need to continue to ride this wave of success.
  • Market Levers and Policy Drivers: Reaching 20% solar by 2030 will depend on a variety of factors, including the industry’s ability to find new opportunities for cost reductions and to move or change policies that can drive growth. The industry will need to streamline permitting challenges to reduce costs, continue its push on net energy metering and other state-level policy in emerging markets, and pass an extension of the ITC to continue growth.
  • Growth Management: The industry must consciously build a strong foundation to support itself. We must proactively address cybersecurity, recycling and land use challenges, as well as grid modernization and the inclusive, equitable distribution of opportunities in solar.

Numerous benefits, including the deployment of 500 gigawatts by the end of 2030 and a sharp reduction in emissions are on the line.

“As the solar industry prospers, we must be thoughtful about who’s benefiting from solar and the enormous economic and climate benefits it will bring,” said Ms. Hopper. “Together we can show that the Solar+ Decade is a story of inclusive growth that will both lift our communities and tackle our pressing climate challenges.”

Executive Summary

This roadmap offers a vision for the radical transformation of the nation’s energy system. It articulates where the solar industry stands today, sets the industry’s goal for the next decade and outlines the steps we must take to get there. The pages that follow will explain how the solar industry will expand exponentially from comprising 2.4% of the U.S. electricity mix today to 20% of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030.

This is an ambitious but achievable goal. Critically, none of it will happen without a collaborative, well-funded effort led by a strong national trade association.

We have identified four significant pillars of our plan to reach 20% by 2030 through radical market transformation:

  • We must work constructively with other industries and organizations that share our vision of radical market transformation. While our goal is predicated on solar penetration, we envision an electricity portfolio comprised of clean energy sources and technologies. Our ethos must be “aggressive collaboration.” We must be impactful and unabashed as we work with other stakeholders to advance storage, infrastructure, wind energy and any number of other technologies that will advance the solar vision and transform our markets.
  • There are a number of market accelerators that can increase solar energy adoption. Capitalizing on these accelerators, including energy storage, carbon reduction goals and electrification, will be critical to meeting our 2030 goal.
  • Market levers and policy drivers will play central roles in whether or not the solar industry reaches its destination. Climate policy, investment tax credit extension, state net energy metering, building codes and renewable portfolio standards all drive solar energy growth. Other factors include regional energy market rules, access to financing and opportunities to further reduce costs.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must manage our growth. Whether it is gaining a social license to operate by being good stewards of the land, proactively addressing recycling, modernizing the grid to allow for more solar deployment, protecting customers or ensuring a diverse customer base and workforce, we have to show that we are growing in a responsible way.

Why set this goal of 20% by 2030 and articulate a vision of radical market transformation? Because, when we achieve this goal, we will have generated hundreds of billions of dollars in investment and created hundreds of thousands of American jobs. We will reduce carbon emissions by hundreds of millions of tons, replacing more than 150 polluting power plants. And, when done with intentionality, we will grow prosperity for all Americans by creating economic opportunity and clean abundant electricity for our communities.

Throughout this report, we outline actionable steps that must be undertaken to realize the 20% goal. Key actions include:

Short-term (one to two years):
  • Extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit.
  • Reduce trade barriers
  • Expand on state-level coordination with partners to strategically plan nation-wide solar advocacy.
  • Strengthen trade association technical capacity and resources to further engage in regulatory proceedings, including FERC, RTO/ISO and state bodies.
  • Develop shared policy priorities in the pan-renewable space.
  • Begin crafting policy priorities for carbon legislation that will provide certainty and maximize opportunity for the solar industry.
Mid-term (three to five years):
  • Be the voice of clean technology in the climate policy debate, including crafting carbon legislative priorities that will maximize opportunities for solar.
  • Achieve adoption of SolarAPP.
  • Position solar + storage as the marginal generation resource (i.e., the best, cheapest and most capable) in state and utility resource planning and procurement.
  • Build a self-sustaining, nationwide PV Recycling Network.
  • Build a workforce that better reflects our country.
  • Expand the U.S. solar supply chain and build out both new and underutilized solar technologies, including photovoltaic (PV), solar heating and cooling and concentrating solar power technologies.
  • Create a vision for longer-term financing mechanisms.
Long-term (five years and beyond):
  • Fully-fund a 50-state policy strategy.
  • Build new transmission to support solar growth, including lines that provide regional and system-wide renewable energy and reliability benefits.
  • Work to build solar powered infrastructure that serves as a national network supporting the full electrification of the transportation sector.
  • Establish a sophisticated, locally-driven solar engagement plan to support solar expansion.

SEIA is well positioned to lead this radical transformation and be the lynchpin for the aggressive collaboration that is needed. However, the solar industry writ large will need to actively engage on all of the areas identified in this roadmap. It will be a transformative and prosperous journey for those in the solar industry today, and the thousands of new companies and hundreds of thousands of workers who will join us on the road ahead.

Resource Type

Learn more about the Solar+ Decade: www.seia.org/solar-decade.

Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

Media Contact: 

Morgan Lyons, SEIA’s Senior Communications Manager, mlyons@seia.org (202) 556-2872