Rhone Resch Says Do the Math: Solar Can Bring Clean Energy to U.S. While Helping the Economy


The Solar Energy Industries Association publishes a report making a case for expanding solar in the U.S. Solar power, the report says, can help states comply with the Clean Air Act while helping the economy.

Next Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is due to announce new air quality standards for coal and natural gas-fired power plants. Of course, those of us in the solar industry have a better idea: switch to solar power.

In keeping with that theme and in preparation for the EPA announcement, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released a new report, “Cutting Carbon Emissions Under §111(d): The case for expanding solar energy in America.” The report makes the case for states to take advantage of solar energy as a way to comply with the Clean Air Act.


Seems like a good strategy. SEIA points out that this year alone, solar is expected to generate enough electricity to effectively offset 13.8 metric tons of CO2 emissions.


As spelled out in this month’s release of the National Climate Assessment report, climate change increasingly threatens both the U.S. economy and the environment. Part of doing something about that will be complying with the new EPA emission standards. Moving to solar power can help states accomplish that.


“For many states struggling to reduce their carbon emissions, solar can be a real game changer,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch in a statement. “We have a very simple message to state regulators: Do the math. When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, the 13 GW of solar currently installed in the United States generates enough pollution-free electricity to displace 14.2 billion pounds of coal or 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline. Put another way, it’s the equivalent of taking 2.7 million passenger cars off U.S. highways each year.


“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,” Resch continued. “All totaled, solar is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power nearly 2.5 million homes. We’re doing our part to help fight climate change, but we can do a lot more in the future — and that’s something we will be stressing to state regulators once the new carbon rules for power plants are announced.”


According to the report, solar has already proven to be a key part of many states’ energy mix — as demonstrated on March 8 when solar provided a record 18% of California’s 22,700 MW demand.


“Solar energy is a solution technology that can provide a cost-effective, economically beneficial and integral part of a state’s effort to regulate carbon emissions from the electric sector,” the report states. “Solar energy’s rapidly falling prices and rapidly growing generating capacity, as well as the volatility of fossil fuel prices, give solar energy the potential to transform compliance with both new carbon emission requirements and other existing requirements under the Clean Air Act.”


The report notes that solar can get us beyond attempting to cut air pollution from traditional power plants. Solar power can help the U.S. keep our air clean while also providing economic benefits.


The report was prepared by SEIA staff in consultation with member companies.