Solar energy ready to help states meet air quality targets
Replacing fossil fuel electricity generating capacity with solar power will help states meet new carbon pollution targets, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
During a national listening tour conducted by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) urged states to turn to solar energy to help meet the carbon pollution standards.
At a session at EPA headquarters, SEIA’s Katherine Stainken told agency officials: “SEIA generally supports the Clean Power Plan and is in support of a flexible approach that allows states to take advantage of solar as a compliance option as part of a balanced energy portfolio. Additionally, SEIA agrees with the EPA that renewable energy is part of the best system of emission reduction. Many states have proven that system-wide programs that require the implementation of renewable energy are extremely effective at reducing carbon emissions in an achievable, efficient and cost-effective manner.”
Today, solar is already providing a big boost to the environment. The 14,800 megawatts (MW) of solar currently installed in the United States can generate enough pollution-free electricity to displace 18 billion pounds of coal or 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline. That’s the equivalent of removing 3.5 million passenger cars off our roads and highways. For states trying to meet new, enhanced air quality standards, solar can be a real game changer.
In May, SEIA released a comprehensive report, “Cutting Carbon Emissions Under §111(d): The case for expanding solar energy in America.” The report offers a detailed, point-by-by point case as to why states should take advantage of clean solar energy as part of their efforts to comply with §111(d) of the Clean Air Act. This year alone, solar is expected to generate enough electricity to effectively offset 13.8 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
“With all this being said, we believe there are certain areas of the Clean Power Plan that must be modified to accurately depict today’s solar market,” Stainken continued. “Specifically in regards to building block 3 on renewable energy, the solar data represents incomplete data and does not reflect current solar capacity or market projections. Current solar capacity today is already far exceeding the estimates the EPA has used for 2030 state targets. The EPA must also recognize distributed generation solar, as well as Solar Heating and Cooling technologies, in its renewable energy state targets. Furthermore, since 2012, the baseline year the EPA has relied on for its solar data, the solar industry has seen rapid expansion and growth across all 50 states. We encourage the EPA to recognize this tremendous growth in solar and to use an updated baseline year relative to when the final rule will be released. SEIA will be submitting detailed comments on these points, and we look forward to working with the EPA on these issues.”
Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,00 Americans and accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in 2013 – second only to natural gas. All totaled, solar is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power nearly 2.5 million homes, while employing nearly 143,000 Americans and pumping more than $15 billion a year into the U.S. economy.
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Companies: Solar Energy Industries Association