Ahead of the Environmental Protection Agency’s introduction of new air quality standards for fossil-fueled power plants on June 2 the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) introduced a new report advocating for solar as cost-effective alternative to reduce carbon emissions. Since solar can be installed in any scale needed, too, the report could help more states choose to support solar incentives and residential solar.
The new report has a rather clunky title: “Cutting Carbon Emissions Under §111(d): The case for expanding solar energy in America,” but it makes an important and clear case for using solar power to comply with §111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Under the new regulations states will have to have to file a compliance plan to reduce greenhouse gasses, among them carbon dioxide.
“For many states struggling to reduce their carbon emissions, solar can be a real game changer,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “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. “
“Historically, air pollution emission reduction from the electric sector has been achieved primarily through pollution control equipment at power plants,” the report states. However, it points out that the EPA and states are recognizing that further reduction of carbon emissions from the electric sector requires a new approach. That approach will treat the production and delivery of electricity as a broad system and to reduce emissions it will require plant modifications, demand side reductions and renewable energy, the report says.
“Solar contributes to a balanced portfolio of energy resources, and can help achieve an optimal long-term strategy for each state’s economy and environment. By including solar energy as part of their §111(d) compliance plan, states can cost-effectively meet their Clean Air Act requirements while reaping a wide range of additional benefits,” the report states.
In just 2014 the more than 13 gigawatts of solar across the U.S. will generate enough solar electricity to effectively offset 13.8 metric tons of CO2 emissions and it can do more thanks to its abilities as an energy generator and quick ramp up over the past few years. “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,” according to the report.
“All totaled, solar is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power nearly 2.5 million homes,” Reasch said. “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.”Tweet