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Biden sets lofty solar power goal


The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a blueprint for producing almost half of the nation's electricity through solar power by 2050.

Solar power made up only 3 percent of the country's total electricity usage in 2020. To reach the goal, the US would need to double its installation of solar energy every year for the next four years.

A report by the Department of Energy (DOE) released on Wednesday said that its calculations showed that reducing costs, implementing new policies and installing more solar panels could put the US on target to reach 40 percent solar electricity usage by 2035 — enough to power all American homes — and 45 percent by 2050.

The report also said that solar capacity will need to reach 1,600 gigawatts by 2050. That is more than the total electrical consumption from residential and commercial buildings today.

"The study illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the US by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process," Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

The solar power study is based on the administration's larger plan to have an emissions-free grid by 2035, with the broader energy system decarbonizing by 2050.

Reaching Biden's goal will mean trillions of dollars in investments by homeowners, businesses and the government. The electric grid — built for hulking coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants — would have to be almost completely remade with the addition of batteries, transmission lines and other technologies that can soak up electricity when the sun is shining and to send it from one corner of the country to another, The New York Times reported.

The DOE study analysis assumes that Congress would fund several of the clean energy investments and policies that Biden has proposed but which have yet to be enacted.

Congressional Democrats are negotiating a $3.5 trillion spending bill that includes tax credits for wind and solar power, but it faces a tough fight this fall.

Dozens of Republicans in the House and Senate said in recent interviews that quickly switching to wind, solar and other clean energy will damage an economy that has been underpinned by fossil fuels for more than a century.

Democrats hold only razor-thin majorities in Congress, putting legislation that will be required to achieve much of his ambitious climate agenda out of reach.

The president's green infrastructure plan is already in trouble in Congress. Biden could lose even that slim congressional majority in the 2022 midterm elections, and potentially the presidency itself in 2024 to a Trump-like Republican, putting the executive action on solar at great risk, the East Asia Forum reported.

"Achieving this bright future requires a massive and equitable deployment of renewable energy and strong decarbonization polices — exactly what is laid out in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and President Biden's Build Back Better agenda," Granholm said in a statement.

The new report is in line with climate and energy plans laid out by Biden during his campaign last year, when he said he wanted to bring net planet-warming emissions from the power sector to zero by 2035. He also wants to add hundreds of offshore wind turbines to the seven currently in American waters.

Last month, in a White House event with executives from three of the nation's largest automakers, Biden announced that he wanted half of all new cars sold to be electric by 2030 — a goal that will depend in large part on whether there will be enough places to charge those cars, the Times reported.

Renewable energy provides about 20 percent of the country's electricity. Natural gas and coal account for about 60 percent. In February, a division of the Energy Department projected that the share of electricity produced by all renewable sources, including solar, wind and hydroelectric dams, would reach 42 percent by 2050 based on current trends and policies.

The president emphasized the need to achieve his goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 after touring damage caused by remnants of Hurricane Ida that flooded parts of New York and New Jersey last week.

"Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives, to our economy. And the threat is here; it's not going to get any better," Biden said. "The nation and the world are in peril.

"And so, folks, this summer alone, communities with over 100 million Americans … have been struck by extreme weather," he added. "One in every three Americans has been victimized by severe weather — the hurricanes along the Gulf, the East Coast, up through this community. And I saw the human and physical costs firsthand, as I said, in Louisiana."

From : China Daily

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