In a speech before a friendly crowd at Georgetown University on June 25, President Barack Obama said the U.S. has a moral obligation to future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted and damaged. While solar energy was not front and center in the president's action plan to counter climate change, certainly some specific initiatives will benefit the solar sector.
Reiterating his belief that climate change is an indisputable fact, Obama has outlined a policy designed to combat carbon pollution supported by three pillars of interest to the power generation industry: cutting carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants, investing in more renewable energy and enhancing conservation efforts. The keystone of the program is a directive for the Environmental Protection Agency to complete a set of stringent carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.
Nevertheless, clean energy was not forgotten. The Obama Administration took credit for doubling generation of electricity from wind, solar and geothermal during its tenure, pointing out that the Department of the Interior (DOI) has approved 25 utility-scale solar facilities since 2009. Obama has set a goal to double renewable electricity generation once again by 2020. In order to meet this target, the administration has announced a number of new efforts:
," In 2012, Obama directed the DOI to issue permits for 10 GW of renewable energy on public lands by the end of this year, a goal that has already been met. The DOI has been directed to issue permits for an additional 10 GW of renewable energy on public lands by 2020.
," The Department of Defense, which the president identifies as the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S., is committed to deploying 3 GW of renewable energy on military installations by 2025.
," Federal agencies are setting a new goal of reaching 100 MW of installed renewable capacity across the federally subsidized housing stock by 2020.
," The U.S. will work with trade partners to launch negotiations at the World Trade Organization towards global free trade in environmental goods, including clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal.
Reacting to Obama's climate change plan, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) looked past the president's spare references to solar specifically to declare that the solar sector is ready to do its part to help usher in a new era of clean energy.
‘Today, climate change is a real and growing threat to America and the rest of the world. It's indisputable,’ says SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch in a statement. ‘To his credit, President Obama understands that. We commend him for offering a bold, decisive plan to combat climate change and to mitigate the impacts of carbon pollution.’