Invest in Clean Energy to Strengthen America’s National Security
Thursday, Mar 10 2022
As the world focuses on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and every day Americans start feeling the impacts of this conflict, there is growing consensus that we can no longer rely on foreign adversaries for our energy needs.
If we want to diversify our energy sources and reinforce American energy independence, encouraging solar and storage deployment and investing in domestic manufacturing is the best opportunity we have to double down on clean, and reliable energy.
Congress is considering federal budget legislation that invests in clean energy and makes a major dent in President Biden’s decarbonization goals. While this is an important opportunity to create jobs and expand solar accessibility, it’s also an opportunity to eliminate U.S. reliance on energy from countries that do not align with our national interests. The legislation, once known as Build Back Better, includes several incentives to boost domestic solar manufacturing and provides the demand drivers needed to deploy record amounts of clean energy and transmission.
Those incentives couldn’t come at a better time for the solar industry.
According to Solar Market Insight 2021 Year in Review report, utility-scale solar prices increased by 18% in 2021 due to continued supply chain disruptions, unfair trade actions, and federal policy uncertainty. As a result, 13% of utility-scale solar projects that were slated for completion in 2022 are now delayed by at least a year or cancelled outright.
Passing clean energy manufacturing incentives can dramatically reduce shipping and import costs, helping the solar industry meet demand with U.S.-made products. In addition, having more American-made products will help protect the industry from global disruptions and ensure every piece of technology that goes into a solar energy system, including cyber-secure power electronics, has American interests at heart.
Today, America’s solar manufacturing sector consists of 7.7 gigawatts (GW) of module capacity. This is only a small fraction of what the market needs, but it also demonstrates an incredible opportunity for growth. For perspective, the U.S. installed 23 GW of new solar capacity in 2021, but we’ll need to install over 100 GW annually to hit President Biden’s climate goals. Companies are ready to invest in states like West Virginia, Michigan, and Arizona, and with federal policy certainty, the United States can make real progress toward SEIA’s target of 50 GW of manufacturing capacity across the entire solar supply chain.
Reaching this target will create hundreds of thousands of career opportunities in regions of the country that have seen dwindling numbers of manufacturing jobs. Paired with a long-term extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), it will provide the materials needed to deploy hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy with American-made inputs. In fact, with deployment and manufacturing incentives in place, solar installations will increase by an additional 66% over the next decade, bringing installed solar capacity to 700 GW by 2032.
This is a vision that was unfathomable just a few years ago. However, a global pandemic, threats from hostile countries, and the persistent risk of climate change has raised the urgency of action.
Congress already has the legislation it needs to transform America from energy-reliant to energy-resilient. Failure to act is no longer an option as the United States faces some of its biggest security concerns to date. If policy remains unchanged, U.S. solar capacity will only reach 464 GW by 2032, which is just 39% of the way toward President Biden’s 2035 decarbonization target.
It’s time to put the days of global volatility and climate apathy behind us and usher in a new era of U.S. energy independence, security, and dominance.