By Rhone Resch, President & CEO – Solar Energy Industries Association
Consistent, stable policies have been a staple for all energy development in the United States for over a century now, opening new markets and facilitating economic growth and job creation across the country. For solar energy, that has meant 5,600 companies employing over 100,000 Americans in all 50 states. Solar is following a similar incentive-driven path to the mainstream as other energy sectors such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear – but only if the stable federal policies that have opened new markets across the U.S. are maintained. That’s according to a recent report from the University of Tennessee Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy.
According to the report, all energy technologies typically require about 30 years to achieve widespread adoption and stable incentives are critical throughout this adoption period – for both fossil and renewable sources of energy. Direct federal support has removed market barriers, encouraged private investment and enabled energy technologies to reach maturity.
Thanks to stable policies at the federal level – most importantly the solar investment tax credit – and policies at the state level aimed at opening new markets, solar energy is on a similar but accelerated trajectory toward widespread adoption.
The Baker Center report provides good historical context for the policymakers in Washington that drive our national energy policy. Developing America’s abundant renewable energy resources – including solar – is consistent with an energy policy that aims to create jobs, promote innovation and investment, and diversify our national energy portfolio. It will be consistent federal policy, like those enjoyed for decades by traditional energy sources, that allows solar and other renewables to continue on their current path toward widespread adoption.
Without consistent policy, Washington risks relegating renewable energy to a perpetual boom/bust cycle – and losing all of the benefits of an all-of-the-above energy portfolio that these rapidly growing industries are contributing to.