Solar is becoming a big deal in the United States. Despite the fact that solar still only meets about 1% of U.S. electricity demand, solar deployment is growing faster than the global average, with installation levels nearly doubling annually over the last decade.
And while action at the federal level has been nowhere near as comprehensive or effective as in European nations or Japan, the Obama Administration has been a strong supporter of the solar industry over the last six and a half years.
The strongest action came in 2009, through funding the DOE loan guarantee program in the stimulus package to support eleven large solar projects in the United States. This single move effectively kick-started utility-scale solar in the nation.
Since that time, the administration has made more low-profile moves, such as requiring federal agencies to source 30% of their power from renewable energy by 2025. Additionally, President Obama has been increasingly talking about solar as a means of job creation and low-carbon energy, including in the administration’s Clean Power Plan.
The administration’s conversation is continuing next Wednesday September 16, when the Solar Power International (SPI) trade show will host remarks by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during a general session.
SPI will take place next week in Anaheim, California. The show is organized by the nation’s largest solar trade group, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). SPI is the largest trade show by attendance in the Western Hemisphere.
For months there has been widespread speculation that Joe Biden will run for U.S. president in 2016. However, Biden has been dismissive of this in recent media appearances.
And while the first debate on candidates from the opposition Republican Party featured no mention of energy or climate policies, renewable energy is an issue in Democratic campaigns.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has announced a goal to move the nation to 33% renewable energy by 2027, including increasing the nation’s solar capacity seven-fold by 2020. This is more ambitious than goals set by the Obama Administration.
Clinton’s populist challenger from the Left, Senator Bernie Sanders, has not released as detailed of plans. However, he has long been a champion of renewable energy in the U.S. Senate, and served on the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy.