DOE: Solar will play a significant role in decarbonizing the US power grid

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the »Solar Futures Study« detailing the role solar will play in decarbonizing the nation’s power grid. The study shows that by 2035, solar energy has the potential to power 40 percent of the nation’s electricity, drive deep decarbonization of the grid, and employ as many as 1.5 million people without raising electricity prices. The study’s findings »call for massive and equitable deployment of clean energy sources,« said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
In 2020, the U.S. installed solar systems with a capacity of 15 GW to total 76 GW, representing 3 percent of the current electricity supply. The study, prepared by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), shows that, by 2035, the United States would need to quadruple its yearly solar capacity additions and provide 1,000 GW of power to a renewable-dominant grid. By 2050, solar energy could provide 1,600 GW on a zero-carbon grid, producing more electricity than consumed in all residential and commercial buildings in the country today. Decarbonizing the entire energy system could result in as much as 3,000 GW of solar by 2050 due to increased electrification in the transportation, buildings, and industrial sectors.
The study’s key findings include, that the US must install an average of 30 GW of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 and 60 GW per year from 2025 to 2030. The study’s modeling further shows the remainder of a carbon-free grid largely supplied by wind, nuclear, hydroelectric and biopower/geothermal.
If the renewable strategy can be driven to success, wind and solar combined will provide 75 percent of electricity by 2035 and 90 percent by 2050. The deployment of storage enables more flexibility and resilience, growing from 30 GW to nearly 400 GW in 2035 and 1,700 GW in 2050.
The DOE »Solar future study« is available as PDF (310 pages) free of charge at »www.energy.gov« (search key words »solar future«).
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