America could save more than $61 billion in future energy costs and create 50,250 new jobs by expanding the use of innovative and cost-effective solar heating and cooling systems across the nation, according to research BEAM Engineering conducted on behalf of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Solar Heating & Cooling: Energy for a Secure Future provides a roadmap for increasing the capacity of solar heating and cooling systems in the US from 9 GW thermal to 300 GW thermal by 2050 through the installation of 100 million new solar heating and cooling solar panels nationwide. In comparison, if a “business as usual” approach was taken by the US, it would result in a capacity of just 75 GW thermal by 2050.
Today, roughly 44 percent of American energy consumption is attributable to heating and cooling. According to projections by BEAM, ramping up the installation of solar heating and cooling systems across America would allow the US to generate nearly 8 percent of its total heating and cooling needs through solar energy. Solar heating and cooling is the most efficient renewable technology for generating thermal heat and costs are as low as 6 cents per kWh, according to the report.
If the ambitious targets for solar heating and cooling installations were met, the systems would displace an estimated 226 million tons of carbon emissions annually, the report says.
The proposed installed solar heating and cooling systems would raise $2.1 billion annually in increased federal tax revenue through job creation and economic growth; increase America’s annual manufacturing GDP by $1.4 billion; save businesses, schools, government and homeowners $19.1 billion, by deferring the need for electric and natural gas infrastructure expansion and repairs; and increase US energy independence.
The US installed 832 MW of solar in the second quarter of 2013, representing 15 percent growth over the first quarter, according to an SEIA report released in September.
GTM and SEIA’s report “US Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2013” found the largest share of photovoltaic installations came from the utility sector, with 38 completed projects totaling 452 MW, a jump of 42 percent over last quarter.