Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Solar Heating and Cooling Could Save $61B, Create 50,250 Jobs By 2050

Business
Solar Heating and Cooling Could Save $61B, Create 50,250 Jobs By 2050

Brandon Baker

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) believes the nation could save $61 billion in energy costs by 2050, creating 50,250 jobs along the way.

The Solar Energy Industries Association released a comprehensive new report this month outlining ways to create 50,250 new American jobs and save more than $61 billion in future energy costs by expanding the use of innovative and cost-effective solar heating and cooling systems across the nation. Photo credit: SunTrac Solar

The U.S. could achieve those goals by vastly expanding the solar heating and cooling capacity (SHC) across the country, according to a SEIA reportSolar Heating & Cooling: Energy for a Secure Future, released this month. Installing 100 million new SHC panels nationwide would increase SHC capacity from nine gigawatts (GW) to 300 GW in the next 37 years, according to the report prepared by Boston-based BEAM Engineering.

The country's nine GW of SHC capacity ranks it just 36th in the world, relative to its population.

"With ambitious targets and a smart, easy-to-understand strategy now in place, SHC can help to displace an estimated 226 million tons of carbon emissions annually," task force chair Ole Pilgaard said. "That's the equivalent of taking 47 million passenger cars off the road."

Heating and cooling represents about 44 percent of U.S. energy consumption. Expanding SHC systems could allow the nation to generate about 8 percent of its heating and cooling needs through "clean, affordable solar energy," the report states.

The residents of 115 million U.S. homes consume about $266 billion of energy each year, with 72 percent of it related to water heating, space heating and space cooling. That's enough to put 10 million people through college, the report estimates.

 SHC expansion would positively impact the country by:

  • Avoiding 226 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which equates to taking 64 coal plants offline.
  • Adding $2.1 billion in increased federal tax revenue through added jobs
  • Lessening the damage caused by drilling, extracting, transporting and storing fossil fuels.

“Part of our challenge is to do a better job of educating policymakers—at both the state and federal level—about the enormous benefits SHC provides to American consumers and businesses, as well as to the U.S. economy,” SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch said. “If we’re successful, the payoff will be enormous in terms of future job creation and energy savings.”

Residential SHC systems can cost $6,000 to $10,000, while commercial and industrial systems can run from $20,000 to $100,000. The report estimates that the payback period can be as little as four years, depending on application, location and financial incentives. 

A roadmap and statement from Resch calls for  long-term policies and financial incentives to make the expansion work.

"The three main types of financial incentives are tax credits, rebate/grant programs and Renewable Energy Credits (REC)," according to the roadmap. "Successful financial incentives allow businesses to make investments under predictable, long-term economic conditions."

SEIA is optimistic about policymakers getting on the same page, stating that Democrats, Republicans and Independents support solar energy by counts of 94, 75 and 89 percent, respectively.

“Without question, this plan will benefit both our economy and our environment,” Pilgaard said.

Plastic pollution lines a Singapore beach. Vaidehi Shah/ CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

Our plastic pollution problem has reached new heights and new depths.

Scientists have found bits of plastic on the seafloor, thousands of feet below the ocean's surface. Plastic debris has also washed ashore on remote islands; traveled to the top of pristine mountains; and been found inside the bodies of whales, turtles, seabirds and people, too.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A large loggerhead with other injuries washed ashore during the latest cold-stunning event and was treated at New England Aquarium. New England Aquarium

Hundreds of endangered sea turtles were stranded on beaches after suffering "cold stunning" in the waters off Cape Cod, Mass. Local rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators stabilized the turtles at the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and National Marine Life Center and began treatment. Many of the sea turtles were transported by land or air to partner facilities around the Eastern Seaboard for longer-term care to make room for more incoming, cold-stunned animals.

Read More Show Less

Trending

On Dec. 21, Jupiter and Saturn will be so closely aligned that they will appear as a "double planet." NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory / YouTube

The night sky has a special treat in store for stargazers this winter solstice.

Read More Show Less
Rough handling can result in birds becoming injured before slaughter. Courtesy of Mercy for Animals

By Dena Jones

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was sued three times this past summer for shirking its responsibility to protect birds from egregious welfare violations and safeguard workers at slaughterhouses from injuries and the spread of the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
A view of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge during Arctic Bird Fest on June 25, 2019. Lisa Hupp / USFWS

By Julia Conley

Conservation campaigners on Thursday accused President Donald Trump of taking a "wrecking ball" to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as the White House announced plans to move ahead with the sale of drilling leases in the 19 million-acre coastal preserve, despite widespread, bipartisan opposition to oil and gas extraction there.

Read More Show Less