Hillary Clinton became a top solar energy advocate overnight after announcing her ambitious goals to deter the devastating effects of global warming. Her plans include a 700 percent increase in the country’s solar capacity by 2020, which is equivalent to 25 million fully operational rooftop systems.
“We’re on the cusp of a new era. We can have more choice in the energy we consume and produce. We can create a more open, efficient, and resilient grid that connects us, empowers us, improves our health, and benefits us all,” highlighted Clinton.
Reasonable Forecasts and Solar Energy Adoption
The solar energy movement is growing exponentially. But can it handle the target set by the campaign? According to the US Energy Information Administration’s April 2014 Electricity Monthly Update, the projected goals are achievable.
Between 2012 and 2014, solar power grew over 418 percent in the US. Assuming installations come through at the same pace, hitting the milestone should not be a problem. Clinton wants an increase of 30 gigawatts of solar energy per year. In 2014, the total that was installed in the US was only 6.2 gigawatts.
Investment Tax Credit Policies
What seems like a straightforward approach to eradicate wasteful energy is not. There are some crucial factors to consider that makes Clinton’s elaborate plan of going solar complicated and risky.
First is the cost of adoption. Solar panels, batteries and installation rates are getting cheaper. This should encourage consumers to invest in solar units. However, key federal tax credits are due to expire in the coming years, which can cause people to be less gung-ho about putting their hard-earned money into solar appliances and parts. Clinton will likely take the necessary steps to ensure the policies are extended.
Standing in her way are Republicans in Congress who are out to put an end to Obama’s Clean Power Plan. In a move to prevent groups from thwarting her objectives, she may exercise her right to veto such attempts.
Going Beyond Solar
Clinton has certainly taken the most direct route to addressing renewable energy issues, but what else can she do to further establish the solar movement?
“There are other means for lowering CO2 emissions in the US. Our comparatively profligate use of gasoline has been one area of focus and average consumer vehicle fuel efficiency has actually been rising in the US in recent years,” said Ethan Zindler, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Americas chief.
“More improvements in transport are definitely possible, particularly in the area of trucks. More efficient use of electricity in homes and businesses is also an area that clearly offers opportunities that do not even necessarily need to be policy driven as they offer consumers the opportunity to save money.”
Zindler raises a strong point- there’s more to energy conservation than solar. Having a diverse strategy (small advancements spread across multiple sectors) is not as impressive or monumental, compared to huge jumps in a focused area. But, taking a holistic approach could help lower the pressure of pinning the country’s hopes on the success of a very nascent, but also notably promising, technology.