With so many energy challenges, PV has become an important part of the solution – increasing sustainability, creating jobs and reducing emissions. In pursuit of energy markets and a system that embraces these functions, Solar Energy Industries Association CEO Abigail Ross Hopper advocates for more stable trade and policy settings to promote the expansion of PV in line with the “Solar+ Decade” goals.

There are better times and worse times for solar and energy storage. Public opinion in favor of solar energy is strong, jobs are growing and more households are choosing solar than ever before. Solar electricity has earned its place as an integral part of the US electricity mix now and for decades to come.

At the same time, it’s been a challenging year for the industry, with political headwinds and a series of blows from clean energy opponents. These developments did not happen in a vacuum, but are the result of global instability and a much larger debate about energy in America.

Even compared to the crisis of the 1970s, when oil prices quadrupled, the sheer number and complexity of the problems — rising prices, an aging grid, widespread economic inequality and the pressing threat of climate change — make this a moment in history.

Fortunately, unlike the crises of the past, today the solution is clear and achievable: the rapid deployment of clean energy. Investing in a clean energy economy will stabilize energy costs and build a safer, more sustainable energy system capable of reducing emissions and creating jobs in every community. The vast majority of Americans recognize the enormous economic and environmental benefits of solar energy, but we can’t just wish for a clean energy future.

Strategy, stability

To meet the challenges ahead and fully realize the promise of a just and clean energy transition, we must come together around a long-term strategy. The goal is to meet the goals of the Solar+ decade, where solar and storage will account for 30% of US electricity generation by 2030. Three broad ambitions can guide the way forward: ensuring certainty in trade and supply chains, strengthening a stable political environment, and removing barriers to sustainable and equitable growth.

Anyone working in the solar industry today knows all too well the need for predictable and transparent trading policies. When the Commerce Department launched an anti-circumvention investigation into solar panels from Southeast Asia this spring, it shocked the industry and put 100,000 jobs at risk.

The solar industry stepped up and successfully took its case to the Biden administration, leading to an executive order to suspend the bypass tariffs for two years. Without President Biden’s announcement, this case could have single-handedly derailed any chance of achieving the goals of the Solar+ Decade.

The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) is working with its members to ensure that unfair petitions no longer pose a threat of this magnitude, and is advocating for policies that will build a reliable solar energy supply chain in the United States. This will reduce trade vulnerability and create thousands of American manufacturing jobs.

SEIA continues to advocate for bold federal clean energy policies. While more and more states are stepping up to the challenge and pushing pro-solar legislation, accomplishing the mammoth task of overhauling the nation’s energy system requires long-term policy at the national level. The on-and-off negotiations in Congress over the past 18 months highlight how important it is for clean energy companies to build relationships with elected officials and educate them about common sense policies that will deliver a clean energy economy.

Sustainability matters

Finally, with rapid growth comes great responsibility. As the solar industry grows in scale, sustainability and equity issues need to be proactively addressed. We know that issues such as land use and recycling are already of public concern and will only become more so as time goes on.

In May, SEIA launched the Solar Energy and Storage Industry Institute (SI2), a new educational and philanthropic organization that will inform SEIA’s advocacy to ensure responsible growth and continue to earn public trust as solar becomes more prominent in Americans’ lives.

SEIA also works to incorporate aspects of diversity, equality, inclusion and justice into all of its work. To decarbonize our electric grid, the solar workforce will need more than 1 million workers by 2035, providing an opportunity to build a much more inclusive and diverse clean energy economy. People of color bear the brunt of the climate crisis, and our industry must focus equity in all of our work.

The stakes have never been higher as we come together as an industry for the first time since 2019: we must seize this opportunity to connect with the solar community and rally around our long-term goals.

We can’t get distracted or bogged down by last year’s hurdles. We must unite around the goals of the Solar+ Decade to solve our nation’s energy and climate crisis. We know that solar and storage is the solution and that the American people are with us – now let’s take the clean energy promise and deliver on it.

About the author

Abigail Ross Hopper

Abigail Ross Hopper is President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). She oversees all of SEIA’s activities, including public affairs, research, communications and industry leadership, and is focused on creating a market where solar energy will account for a significant percentage of America’s energy production. Prior to joining SEIA, she was Director of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. She headed the agency that oversees the leasing and development of all offshore energy, from oil and natural gas to offshore wind.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of pv magazine.

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