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U.S. Department of Energy Anticipates Increased Solar Supply


In a recent Department of Energy release entitled “Solar Futures Study” prepared by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Agency predicted that 35 percent of the U.S. requirement for electricity could be provided by solar in 2035.  Further investment could increase the proportion to 45 percent by 2050.  These optimistic predictions are however based on government investment, technological advances and willingness to invest in solar energy.  To achieve the DOE targets, capacity would have to increase by 30 gigawatts each year through 2025 and double to 60 gigawatts annually through to 2030.  In 2020 solar capacity increased by 20 gigawatts representing a 40 percent increase compared to 2019.


Although capital investment in solar and other environmentally acceptable generation may attain $560 billion, this will be offset by the cost of environmental degradation attributed to climate change caused by fossil fuels. Expenditure on repair of infrastructure after hurricanes, floods, polar vortices and droughts must be considered in relation to any investment in alternative sources of energy.


Apart from the technical issues, socioeconomic factors must be taken into account.  Workers involved in fossil fuel generation will be displaced and compensatory resources must be allocated in an equitable way. 


Progressive companies such as family-owned and operated Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch Inc. have installed solar panels adjacent to their new Pennsylvania complex.  Greater use should be made of the potential to generate on-farm power that will in the short term require increased government subsidies.