‘Solutions’ are not enough to make solar energy sustainable
Solar energy will need to “take on” other energy sources in a way that “solutions” are not yet “enough,” according to a report by the think tank EIA that analyzes how companies are responding to the changing nature of energy sources.
In the report, EIA’s Energy Department forecasts that solar and wind will consume the same amount of electricity as coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric power by 2040.
The report notes that this is a prediction that may be premature, but that “in the absence of any meaningful change, we can expect the amount of solar and other renewable energy generated by the U.S. to grow to the same extent as coal and nuclear over the next two decades.”
But the report also warns that the transition to a cleaner energy system is going to be difficult.
“We see some clear progress in reducing carbon emissions,” said David Schoenfeld, EEA’s senior director of energy systems, at a press conference announcing the report’s release.
“However, we still need to do much more.
Cleaner energy systems are just as important as cleaner transportation and building codes, and they need to be deployed as rapidly as possible.””
There are solutions out there, but they won’t be enough,” said John Matson, EIE’s vice president of energy programs and policy.
“We need solutions that are sustainable and that are affordable, which is not just the solar industry, but other sectors that depend on energy.
That means creating new clean energy technologies, like wind and solar, and encouraging more and more investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, which will help address our climate challenge.”
The report finds that, as of this year, the solar and energy industries collectively spent $1.9 trillion on clean energy projects.
But even as solar has emerged as the industry’s leading source of clean energy, the industry continues to lag behind its competition.
Solar energy companies have been able to capitalize on the increased use of rooftop solar panels and the ability to install them at less than 10 percent of existing buildings, even as the cost of building solar power has skyrocketed, as well as the increasing popularity of battery-powered solar power systems that can reduce the need for expensive, centralized energy storage systems.
In 2015, the United States invested $1 billion in renewable energy projects in states that have installed rooftop solar.
Last year, an estimated $1 trillion in clean energy investments were made across the U, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group that represents wind power producers and energy storage companies.
The report also notes that the U is not yet a net-zero country.
In fact, the report finds, the nation has been able “to build some of its greatest carbon-free capacity” by “building the largest, most efficient and safest electric vehicles in the world.”
While the U has been making great strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the EIA notes that we remain a net carbon emitter and that we are “still on track to reach a net zero carbon emissions rate by 2050.”
“The challenge is not only the need to reduce emissions in the future, but also to keep pace with rising demand for energy and the rising demand of energy efficiency,” Schoenfield said.
“This means we need to develop new ways to provide energy that is more sustainable, but at the same time have an economic return on that investment.”
In addition to EIA, the study was authored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Center for International Climate and Energy Research, the University of Michigan, and the National Academies.