Solar a long-term energy solution, states MIT study

According to the MIT study, the main goal of US solar policy should be to build the foundation for a massive scale-up of private and utility scale solar generation over the next few decades


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Terra Firma or Aqua Corpus? Or, Where Best to Harness the Sun?

Floating solar farms have been installed on reservoirs in Great Britain and Japan, but have been slow to gain a foothold in the United States. Why?

May 27, 2016Read more


Glenn Meyers

(Photo courtesy of Clean Technica)

Many of us already believed solar power was one of our best options as a long-term energy solution. Now a massive study on solar power by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has come to two primary conclusions: solar energy holds the best potential for meeting the planet’s long-term energy needs while reducing greenhouse gases, and federal and state governments must do more to promote development of this renewable energy source.

According to the MIT study, the main goal of US solar policy should be to build the foundation for a massive scale-up of private and utility scale solar generation over the next few decades.

“Our objective has been to assess solar energy’s current and potential competitive position and to identify changes in US government policies that could more efficiently and effectively support its massive deployment over the long term, which we view as necessary,” says MITEI Director Robert Armstrong, the Chevron Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT.

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In the United States, the federal government’s solar investment tax credit (ITC) passed in 2008, but is set to expire next year. It offered a 30% tax credit for residential and business installations for solar energy. When it expires in 2016, the tax credit will drop to a more permanent 10%. This will likely dim interest in renewable energy platforms like solar.

To understand all parameters, the MIT Energy Initiative provides a 356-page report, The Future of Solar Energy, on Monday. The study found that even with today’s crystalline silicon PV technologies, the industry could achieve terawatt-scale deployment of solar power by 2050 without major technological advances.

The study focused on three challenges to achieving that goal: developing new solar technologies, integrating solar generation at large scale into existing electric systems, and designing efficient policies to support solar tech deployment.

“Massive expansion of solar generation worldwide by mid-century is likely a necessary component of any serious strategy to mitigate climate change,” the study concluded. “Fortunately, the solar resource dwarfs current and projected future electricity demand. In recent years, solar costs have fallen substantially and installed capacity has grown very rapidly.”

MITEI released The Future of Solar Energy study on May 5, 2015. To see the video, go here.

Access the full article in Clean Technica.