By Roy L Hales
“Solar panels in the White House are a really important message,” Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz explained. “We are doing it. We could do a lot more. I am very bullish about the future of solar as a key part of our clean energy future.”
American homeowners and small businesses are going solar energy at a rate of about one every four minutes. This translated into 23,000 new solar jobs last year. So when President Obama says the Sunshot initiative was designed to ensure 50,000 more workers enter the industry by 2020, we know this is reachable goal.
The SunShot Initiative:
- was launched in 2011, when the price of solar energy per kilowatt-hour was nearly twice what it is today ($0.21 compared to the present $0.11.).
- is working with 280 community colleges across America.
- has harnessed the internet to provide free online courses for prospective workers, building officials and electrical inspectors.
- is targeting returning veterans as one possible pool of labor. Thousands may enter the solar industry
The SunShot Initiative’s goal is to make solar energy fully competitive with non renewable energy by the end of the decade. They believe this will happen when solar electricity reaches $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. As it says on their webpage, “This in turn will enable solar-generated power to grow from less than .05% of the current electricity supply to roughly 14% by 2030 and 27% by 2050.”
President Obama is not working alone. Over 300 public and private sector business leaders have joined him in a pledge to increase their solar usage. Home Depot will position over 1000 stores to be learning centers for residential solar power systems by 2016. Ikea commits to use renewable energy generation at their new U.S. IKEA will use solar when feasible. Their 40th store, which opens in Miami this summer, will have panels. Yahoo will add a solar installation to their Sunnyvale headquarters by early 2015.
Google, Lennar Homes and Goldman Sachs are also among the 300 companies. Click on this link to access a complete list.
“We’re thrilled to see the President taking so much leadership around solar deployment,” said Erica Mackie, CEO and Co-founder of GRID Alternatives.
GRID Alternatives is committing to help install 100 MW of solar power on affordable single-family and multifamily homes by 2024. They have also announced a new Tribal Solar Initiative to ensure that American Indian tribes across the US have access to solar power.
GRID Alternatives is a non-profit organization that leads teams of volunteers and job trainees to install solar panels for low income home owners. One of their installations is described in the video below.
“We are cheering about President Obama’s announcement today; which recognizes that the sky’s the limit on solar energy,” said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment California. “The progress we’ve made should give us the confidence we need to take it to the next level. Being a leader in pollution-free solar energy means setting big goals and backing them up with good policies. ”
Solar power in the U.S. has grown 10-fold in the U.S. since 2008, thanks to a strong commitment from the Obama Administration in partnership with local and state officials.
“Solar power is growing much faster than many would have imagined, thanks in great part to local officials who have recognized the environmental and economic benefits,” said Kinman. “Because it is pollution-free and has no fuel costs, we should be shooting for the moon in tapping the energy from the sun.”
California is a shining example of solar power working for our planet and our communities, with more solar power installed than in any other state and over 47,000 Californians employed by the solar industry in 2013.
“California’s solar success is a direct result of the commitment by Governor Brown, the legislature, and local leaders working in partnership with the federal government to advance bold solar power goals,” said Dan Jacobson, Environment California’s Program Director, who was on hand for the President’s press conference.
“The Clean energy Revolution is not something for the distant future, its happening right now,” Secretary Moniz said.
“The President is basically doing what Americans all across America are doing right now, ” added Mihn Lee, Director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office . “They are making a conscious choice to look for renewable energy, like solar, as the cheaper cleaner energy source.”