WELCOME TO THE SOLAR+ DECADE
SOLAR POWER ALONE is capable of lowering electric bills and greening the environment, but for it to be most effective at keeping the lights on in this time of climate change and voluntary blackouts, it must be paired with storage. SEIA has proclaimed 2020 to 2030 to be the Solar+ Decade and set a goal for solar to comprise 20% of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030 instead of its current 2.7% share. The group plans to accomplish this ambitious goal through “aggressive collaboration” with stakeholders in wind, storage and other industries.
The solar industry continues to reach milestones on its own. According to Wood Mackenzie’s “2019 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report,” the utility solar pipeline hit a record of 37.9 GW in September 2019. Utilities like Ameren and companies like Microsoft contributed to this achievement with huge procurements, like Microsoft’s 150-MW solar array being built to power two data centers in Arizona.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that solar, including small-scale PV systems, grew 13.7% in 2019 compared to the first eight months of 2018. Small-scale solar provided nearly one third of total solar generation and distributed solar as a whole grew more than any other energy source.
“It’s no surprise that the U.S. solar pipeline is surging as costs continue to fall and solar becomes the lowest cost option for utilities, corporations and families,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “However, as we push for solar to represent 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030, smart policies like an extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit will be critical to reach this goal.”
SEIA and other solar advocates are working hard to extend the ITC to make sure this growth continues in all solar sectors. Wood Mackenzie and SEIA forecasted that extending it would produce $87 billion in new private sector investment and add 113,000 more jobs over baseline estimates by 2030. It also found that an extension would generate an additional 82 GW of solar deployment over the next decade, with 63 GW coming from the utility-scale sector.
Residential solar also grew 3% quarter-over-quarter and 8% year-overyear in 2019 as it continued its rebound from 2018. Residential storage had a milestone year, hitting its biggest quarter ever in Q2 with 35 MW of installations.
“The nascent energy storage market in the U.S. continues to grow in fits and starts,” said Dan Finn-Foley, head of energy storage for Wood Mackenzie. “But signposts such as the record residential storage quarter, massive FTM pipeline growth and innovative policies such as the Massachusetts Clean Peak [Energy] Standard point toward an industry that is maturing and should stabilize at scale over the next two years.”
There’s no stopping solar, but as the climate changes and the effects compromise the grid in more and more ways, energy storage must be part of the equation.