Energy & Environment

Solar could provide 40 percent of US power generation by 2035, Biden administration says

solar panels at sunset

The Department of Energy is projecting that solar power could comprise up to 40 percent of U.S. power generation nationwide by 2035, an increase of more than tenfold from today, with better incentives for renewable energy.

In a memo released Tuesday, department officials cite a pre-publication study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicating that solar energy would need to grow at a 300 to 400 percent rate to reach this point. With this level of acceleration, the memo states, solar generation could increase from 3 percent now to more than 40 percent over the next 14 years.

The memo identifies a number of strategies officials say could advance this goal, including clean energy tax credits, investment in the grid and transmission lines and increased deployment to low-income communities.

“Meeting these goals will require billions in investment and market opportunities through 2050 across clean energy generation, energy storage, electricity delivery, and operations and maintenance  including in low-income and community solar,” the memo states. “Investments that lower both the hardware and soft administrative costs of solar will save consumers thousands of dollars on their residential systems and help lower their utility bills.”

The memo comes the week after the Senate passed a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that includes steps to modernize the grid. In the meantime, the White House has pledged to take further steps to incentivize renewable and solar energy. A separate $3.5 trillion reconciliation package would allocate $198 billion under the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, but does not specify individual uses.

Separately, the Biden administration is pushing for an extension of a 26 percent tax credit, for which solar energy projects are currently eligible. White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said in July that if a clean energy standard was not passed in either the infrastructure or reconciliation package, “we have lots of regulatory authority that we intend to use, regardless, and we’ll move forward with those efforts to try to tackle the climate crisis.”

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