Following up on the massive gains made in 2013, U.S. solar energy had another banner year in 2014—and the industry is poised to shout it from the rooftops.
In this case, of course, “rooftops” means social media.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which is celebrating its 41st anniversary as a national trade association, is organizing its second annual national “Shout Out For Solar” day on Friday, January 16, 2015 to proclaim the wonders of solar energy in the U.S. via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
The national “Shout Out For Solar” day was also planned to coincide with the release of The Solar Foundation’s annual National Solar Jobs Census, which came out today and reports that the U.S. solar energy industry now employs nearly 174,000 people—a 22% increase since November 2013. As Climate Progress reports, that is 20 times faster job growth than the national average.
The point of bringing together hundreds of thousands of participants to shout about the successes of solar in unison, according to SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch, is to show legislators, regulators and policymakers in the U.S. how important solar energy is to the country’s future.
Resch has plenty of evidence to back up that statement, of both the economic and environmental variety.
Aside from the jobs numbers just released by The Solar Foundation, SEIA says that the U.S. now has more than 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity, enough to keep the lights on in four million American homes, which is contributing more than $15 billion to the American economy. And another 20 GW of solar capacity are expected to be installed in the U.S. by the end of 2016.
All of that clean solar energy kept an estimated 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions out of our atmosphere, according to SEIA, eliminating the combustion of 2.1 billion gallons of gas. That’s equivalent to shuttering five coal-fired power plants.
And yet, even while forward-thinking public policies like the Solar Investment Tax Credit, Net Energy Metering, and Renewable Portfolio Standards have helped spur this growth, they receive less than unwavering support in Washington D.C. Hence the need for a national “Shout Out For Solar” day.
The Solar Investment Tax Credit, for instance, is set to expire at the end of next year. That is already causing turmoil in the industry, including the cancellation of at least one industrial-scale solar project. Yet, as Greentech media reported last July, “the solar industry seems to be facing an uphill struggle, as there appears to be no clear consensus among legislators that the expiration date should be extended.”
If enough people demand an extension of the Solar Investment Tax Credit, of course, U.S. legislators will have to listen.
“With the 30 percent solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) set to expire at the end of 2016, we need to dramatically step up our efforts to shine a bright light on the amazing success of solar energy in America,” Resch says. “‘Shout Out For Solar’ Day is the perfect time for Americans to voice their support for increased development of solar resources nationwide.”
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