Research by the Solar Futures Study shows that against a background of sharply reduced costs, stimulated by government policy and a large-scale renewal of the electricity network, solar energy could provide up to 40 % of the country’s power supply by 2035 and 45 % by 2050.
In order to achieve this, the United States will have to double the number of solar panels in service each year up until 2030. What this means is bringing on stream 30 gigawatts of solar capacity per year up until 2025 and 60 GW per year between 2025 and 2030. It assumes a solar energy network of 1,000 GW by 2035 and 1,600 GW by 2050.
According to the calculations of the U.S. Department of Energy, solar panels have come down in price sufficiently in order to achieve these goals. The government assumes that spending on decarbonisation and electrification will be totally offset by technological improvements and greater flexibility in demand.
The current U.S. electricity network must be modernised — energy storage capacity must be added, as well as transmission lines and equipment for absorbing sunlight and transmitting solar energy. At this time, renewables account for about 20 % of the country’s energy balance – gas and oil for 60 %.
In February, official forecasts said renewable energy by 2050 could account for up to 42 % of all US. power generation.
About half of all solar stations brought on stream now are based in Texas, Florida and California. Experts estimate that in the first quarter of this year, nearly 60 % of new capacity in the country was provided by solar power and over the next five years, solar power capacity will rise by 160 GW (the total now stands at about 103 GW).