With the current change in the political climate, there has been concern as to what the future holds for the renewable energy industry.
With threats to The Paris Climate Deal, the viability of the EPA, and The Clean Power Plan, it may appear that solar and other renewables are on their way out. There is no doubt, progress could slow, but the future of solar is as bright as ever.
The federal government currently has control over the 30% investment tax credit, but the majority of the programs which make solar an attractive option in Rhode Island are state-run. Both the Net-Metering and Renewable Energy Growth Programs are customer-friendly programs that allow customers to see real economic results from their solar installation. Rhode Island also has an aggressive Renewable Energy Standard, which requires the state to generate 38.5% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035, ensuring the future of solar for years to come.
There has also been significant momentum in solar energy nationwide and across the globe. Solar Energy Industries Association reports an exponential increase in installed solar PV in the past 5 years. From 852 megawatts in 2010 to 7,286 megawatts in 2015. Solar has also proven an engine for economic growth. According to the National Solar Jobs Census the solar industry employs over 200,00 workers – double the amount in 2010 – and is growing by 20% per year. In addition, the future of solar rests in its ability to become more and more affordable for consumers. Installation cost has dropped by over 70% in the past decade, allowing the average person’s dollar to stretch further in their pursuit of renewable energy. The price is expected to continue dropping, making the future of solar even more affordable and accessible.
Technological innovations in solar are not expected to slow down any time soon. The future of solar will be driven by advances in technology. Organizations both public and private are focusing resources on creating the new wave of innovation in the solar energy industry.
The reason that solar and other renewables will ultimately overtake fossil fuels, independent of policy, is the fact that the fuels that drive these systems are free, renewable, and plentiful. Fossil fuels are falsely inexpensive, as their true costs, be they economic, social, or environmental, are not paid for at the pump. Renewables do not post health hazards or damage natural resources that support people’s livelihood.