On January 20th, 2021, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States of America, with a goal to “Build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future.” Initially, the road to achieving this appeared to have some challenges. However, with the Jan 5th runoff election in Georgia, giving the Democrats Senate control, Biden’s Clean Energy plan has become more realistic. President Biden has laid out a 2 trillion plan to fight climate change that includes a path to net-zero emissions on the power grid by 2035 and a 100% clean energy economy by 2050. To achieve this, experts predict we would have to see a 5-10x growth in solar over the next few years, with stock market experts supporting this, indicating that renewable energy demand will increase in the coming years. In the past year, the energy industry (during COVID) saw a market drop of 40%, while renewable energy almost doubled.
Former Michigan Governor and new head of the Department of Energy (DOE) Jennifer Granholm plans to work with local states and cities on a system of incentives to boost the economy and combat climate change. Expect this incentive-based approach to lower manufacturing costs, allowing the cost savings to be passed to the consumer. With the addition of the solar Federal Tax Credit extension included in the COVID Relief Bill signed in December 2020 by former President Trump. Consumers should experience a cost reduction when it comes to energy independence. These are just a few of the measures we will see as Biden strives for his goal of installing “500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems,” as stated in the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations. This report also calls for the federal government to cut the red tape that has slowed the private solar industry installation process.
The DOE also plans to fund research into electric heat pump technologies with a goal to replace natural gas-powered systems found in over 70 million homes and businesses that account for 14% of the country’s greenhouse gasses. They are also looking at updating building codes to help accelerate the administration’s plan. Historically this has proven to be an effective strategy; as investment grows and technology advances, the price of green energy has dropped. Since 2010, the cost of solar power has fallen by 82%.
Ideally, this investment and incentive-based approach should help the economy grow as well, focusing on developing new green energy technologies and the need for more skilled workers to build and activate the infrastructure needed. The growth in the job market can already be seen, with green energy jobs like wind turbine technicians and solar installers being two of the country’s fastest-growing careers.
With this being an excellent start for consumers looking to invest in solar, some in the industry feel more can be done. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has laid out a “100-day plan” for the President and the 117th Congress, presenting proposed legislation and executive actions with a goal of laying a “foundation for a strong clean energy economy.”
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