The Biden government said Wednesday the United States should aim to garner nearly 50 percent of its electric supply from solar energy by 2050, revealing the new component of its climate change strategy, according to The New York Times.
A report released by the Department of Energy (DOE) states that solar energy could account for much as 40 percent of the electricity supply by 2035 and 45 percent by 2050, up from its current level of just 3%.
However, the US government would have to double its yearly solar power projects to accomplish this goal. The future hinges both on US policy adjustments and considerable public investments to transition into solar energy.
The report comes at the heels of the recent climatic events and disasters, such as Hurricane Ida and wildfire in Turkey, Greece and the US. The proposal aims to revise the country’s infrastructure and policies in order to fight future climate emergencies.
In addition, the Biden administration unveiled last month an ambitious plan to have 50% of all cars sold in the United States be zero-emission by 2030. The achievement of that goal will also rely heavily on a shift in policy, significant investment, and a shift in consumer behaviour.
“The new DOE report illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
The DOE report was “intended to guide” solar innovation and renewable energy policy instead of being a statement of the government, stresses Becca Jones-Albertus, the head of energy technology in the department of solar energy. In other words, success is heavily reliant on policy shifts achieved in Congress from now on.
The DOE research forecasts an additional $562 billion in costs for solar infrastructure construction by 2050, with much of this reliant on “continued technological advances” for the production and storage of solar power. However, according to the report, this investment would yield significant returns, with estimations indicating that it would save around $1.7 trillion during “avoided climate damages and improved air quality.”
Although the House and Senate might stand in the way of progress. The libertarian advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, calls Biden’s plans “wasteful, partisan wish lists” of investment infrastructures. Biden’s first federal budget demanded over 60% spending extension to avoid worsening climate change investments, resulting in over $36 billion in investment.