SEIA Proposes Solar Heating and Cooling Policy to Create Jobs

Since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, the U.S. economy continues to grow at a pace that is below the rate needed to create good-paying jobs and sustain economic growth. Analysts estimate that the economy will grow at about a 2 percent annual pace in 2013. Most economists agree that a 3 percent annual rate of expansion is necessary for healthy economic expansion.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has a proposal to address the need to create more jobs while making homes and businesses more energy efficient.

Since heating and cooling account for 44 percent of energy usage in the U.S., the SEIA’s report titled the “SHC Roadmap”  calls for the creation of a national forward-looking public strategy to grow the solar heating and cooling (SHC) segment of the American solar industry.

According to the SEIA, the SHC initiative will supplement existing renewable energy policies and set a long-term course of action designed to meet predetermined SHC targets.

The types of strategies policymakers should consider include:

  • Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) with SHC eligibility
  • Renewable Thermal Standards
  • Building mandates

The scheme would grow America’s SHC capacity from 9 gigawatts (GW) to 300 GW by 2050.

Similar to the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, the SEIA encourages the Federal government to take the same leadership role to reduce the “soft costs” associated with SHC and help it reach “cost competitiveness with conventional fuel.”

The SunShot Initiative’s orchestrates a nationwide and collaborative effort to promote research, manufacturing, and market solutions to make solar electricity generation costs competitive with other forms of generating electricity by 2020.

The SEIA plan seeks comparable government support for advances in the SHC segment. The financial incentives required to drive the SHC program will fall under the three main categories:

  1. Tax credits
  2. Rebate/grant programs
  3. Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)

The enticements must create the long-term conditions necessary to attract business investment and create a fair return on investment.

The benefits of SHC are as follows:

  1. Economic gains –Increase completion will put downward pressure on the average price of systems. Currently, the SHC segment employs an estimated 5,000 workers across the country. SEIA says that it will create more than 50,000 high-paying jobs.

The financial savings from installing solar heating and cooling systems is projected to produce $61 billion for homeowners, businesses, educational institution and government, by while lowering their utility bills.

  1. Environmental impact – The report states that a policy to increase the reliance on SHC systems will meet the needs and satisfy 8 percent of the total heating and cooling needs. The use of solar energy provides a clean fuel source and rids the environment about 226 million tons of carbon emission per year—the equivalent of shutting down 64 coal-fired electricity generation plants.

The SHC Roadmap report was produced by the Boston-based consulting firm BEAM Engineering. The company specializes in energy systems design and implementation.

This post provided courtesy of Critical Systems, Inc.

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