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SEIA's 10-Year Roadmap for U.S. Solar: What You Need to Know

Posted by Gwen Brown on Sep 29, 2019 3:42:23 PM

This past week, the Aurora team had the pleasure of exhibiting at Solar Power International (SPI), which brought more than 19,000 professionals to Salt Lake City—making it the largest energy event in North America! SPI provided a powerful platform for companies (including Aurora) to showcase their latest innovations and for the industry to collaborate on important issues and unite around a common vision.

Beyond individual company achievements, perhaps the most pivotal outcome of SPI 2019 was the announcement of a new 10-year strategic plan from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Although the solar industry has grown by leaps and bounds, achieving exponential growth in installed capacity and formidable reductions in costs, today solar energy still makes up only 2.4% of the total U.S. electricity mix. Looking toward the future, SEIA has set the ambitious goal of making solar account for 20 percent of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030. Ambitious, yet achievable.

SEIA’s new roadmap—The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy—lays out an action plan for how this target can be reached, highlighting four pillars for achieving the radical market transformation that will be necessary. In today’s article, we dig into the action plan SEIA has articulated for the U.S. solar industry to reach 20% of electricity by 2030, what will be involved, and what all of this means for your solar company.

See how Aurora Solar software can help you close more sales in a free  consultation.

Why Does This Matter?

To start, what are the implications of realizing this 10-year industry strategy? As SEIA President and CEO Abby Hopper explains, “If we achieve 20 percent solar by 2030, the potential payoff to our economy would be enormous.”

“Picture this: solar could add more than $345 billion to the U.S. economy over the next ten years, reaching $53 billion annually. The solar workforce would grow to 600,000 professionals and Americans would enjoy greater energy choice, lower utility bills, and cleaner air. Moreover, our success could prove that climate solutions don’t hurt the economy, but instead, are some of the strongest economic growth engines we’ve seen in decades.”

Clearly, achieving this target would transform not only our industry, but would bring about considerable positive benefits for the U.S. economy and the world. Yet there are many challenges that will need to be overcome to make this vision a reality.

As SEIA worked to develop its plan for achieving these goals, Hopper testified before the House Science Committee Subcommittee on Energy. She notes that she “felt it was important to share industry pain points with the subcommittee—like permitting and interconnection, workforce diversity and preparedness, grid modernization and resilience, advanced manufacturing, and energy storage integration—and begin advocating for a stronger solar future today.” Addressing these pain points will be critical to success.

Annual solar installations required (GWh) for solar energy to reach 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030Annual solar installations required (GWh) for solar energy to reach 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030, according to SEIA’s 10-year roadmap, The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy.

How Will Solar Reach 20% of Generation by 2030?

SEIA’s roadmap is built around four pillars. These are: aggressive collaboration, capitalizing on market accelerators, using market levers and policy drivers, and responsibly managing our growth as an industry. Let’s take a closer look at each.

1. Collaborating Aggressively

SEIA emphasizes that for solar to supply 20% of our country’s electricity, our work can’t be done alone. That means within our industry diverse sectors need to work together, and we must be united in our messages to build public and political support.

It also means reaching beyond the boundaries of our own industry to collaborate with other stakeholders and renewable energy sectors. That includes working “closely with the wind and storage industries and related technologies to create a comprehensive renewable mindset in this country,” as well as other stakeholders like utilities, climate advocates, corporate buyers, and federal and governments.

(See page 9 of the full roadmap for specific action items SEIA has identified related to collaboration.)

2. Capturing the Benefits of Market Accelerators

SEIA identifies “a number of market accelerators that can increase solar energy adoption.” Specifically, it identifies energy storage, carbon reduction goals, and electrification as key levers for enabling this level of solar growth. Storage will make it easier to incorporate high levels of solar energy on the grid, help customers manage moves to time of use rates, and the two technologies create new business opportunities for each other.

Climate policies, and related moves to electrify much of our energy use—from homes to vehicles, will create significant market opportunities for solar. We are already seeing the benefits of these kinds of policies at the state and local level, such as California’s (and other state and local) commitment to sourcing 100% of electricity from clean energy, and its mandate of solar on all new homes starting next year.

(See pages 10-12 of the full roadmap for specific action items SEIA has identified related to these market accelerators.)

To learn more about what CA's 100% clean energy target means for solar,  watch our GTM webinar with the California Energy Commission and  the California Solar and Storage Association!

3. Using Market Levers and Policy Drivers

A third and critical pillar of SEIA’s roadmap is the use of market levers and policy drivers. As the roadmap asserts, “The 20% goal is not achievable under business-as-usual growth projections. To put the industry on a path to deeper levels of penetration, we must drive down costs, develop new financing mechanisms, and build stronger federal and state policy.”

The roadmap identifies several specific areas of focus including climate policy, extension of the Investment Tax Credit—which is slated to begin stepping down at the end of this year, state net energy metering policies, building codes, renewable portfolio standards, regional energy market rules, and access to financing. It also highlights opportunities to further reduce costs, such as by streamlining permitting costs.

(See pages 14, 15, 17, and 19 of the full roadmap for specific action items SEIA has identified related to these market levers and policy drivers.)

Estimated U.S. Solar Generation (GWh) Across Policy Scenarios & Targets, according to SEIA’s 10-year roadmap, The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy.

4. Managing Growth

The final pillar of this 10-year roadmap deals with how the industry will manage this unprecedented level of growth in a responsible way. “Whether it is gaining a social license to operate by being good stewards of the land, proactively addressing recycling, modernizing the grid to allow for more solar deployment, protecting customers, or ensuring a diverse customer base and workforce, we have to show that we are growing in a responsible way,” asserts SEIA.

In addition to environmental responsibility on issues like recycling and land use, a key focus in this area is ensuring that the diversity of the industry reflects the diversity of the nation - both in terms of our employees and customers, as Hopper and other panelists discussed in the Opening Session at SPI.

(See pages 20 - 27 of the full roadmap for specific action items SEIA has identified related to managing growth.)

Estimates for solar industry workforce by year on its path to 20% by 2030, according to SEIA’s 10-year roadmap, The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy.

What Does This Mean for You?

This roadmap gives members of the U.S. solar industry transparency into the priorities of its national trade association, including what SEIA will be advocating for on your behalf with federal and local governments. The report includes specific action items and priorities for the short-term, mid-term, and long-term.

In the short-term, over the next two years, priorities include the extension of the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). At SPI, SEIA presented estimates that a 10-year extension of the ITC would lead to $87 billion in new private sector investment and an additional 113,000 American jobs over baseline estimates by 2030. Other priorities include reducing trade barriers, increasing state-level coordination, and strengthening its technical capacity to engage in regulatory proceedings.

Over the next three to five years, goals include achieving adoption of its SolarAPP program to reduce permitting complexity, building a national PV Recycling Network, increasing diversity in the industry, and positioning solar + storage as the best, cheapest and most capable generation resource in state and utility resource planning (among other goals). SEIA sets other ambitious goals for the final five years of this ten-year plan.

We encourage you to check out the full roadmap for all of the details and think about how you can get involved! As Abby Hopper explains, “If the solar industry fails to meet our ambitious goals for U.S. electricity generation, it will be because we fail in the next couple of years lay the necessary groundwork. While it won’t be easy, it’s up to us to shape our future and create a new story for solar in the United States.”

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Topics: solar industry, Industry Events, Solar Jobs

Make the Most of SPI: Conference Highlights and Tips for Success

Posted by Sara Carbone on Sep 19, 2018 8:00:27 PM

Solar Power International (SPI), the largest North American solar trade show and conference, is just around the corner! It’s a terrific opportunity to get a firsthand look at the latest in innovative technology, industry research, and key issues impacting solar contractors. You can also network with a whole host of industry experts, check out the competition, and pick up some great business insights. But you’ll get a whole lot more out of the event if you go with a carefully thought out plan of action.

For those of you attending SPI (it isn’t too late to sign up!), we’ve identified some choice learning opportunities and events to add to your agenda–as well as some things to keep in mind to get the most out of the event.

SPI_2018_Shareables_1200x630_3

Conference Overview

SPI is running from September 24-27 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. It will be attended by solar professionals from all segments of the industry–from contractors and developers, to financiers, manufacturers, software providers and more–across the residential, commercial, and utility-scale sectors. Last year saw 20,000 attendees and over 750 exhibitors. The event is put together by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA).

Each of the four days is made up of a variation of the following: a general session, educational sessions in the meetings rooms and on the expo floor, networking opportunities, and various other events like poster presentations and educational walking sessions.

You can register as a Full Conference attendee and take advantage of all the educational content available. Or you can register for the Expo Floor only, where you can access education opportunities on the trade show floor or at the Expo Floor Education Theaters, as well as attend general sessions and poster exhibits. The Expo Floor pass is a great option for those focused on connecting with current and prospective business partners.

The SPI website is an excellent resource, featuring a summary of the week’s events. It also gives you the ability to save favorite events and build your own custom schedule. Take advantage of the interactive floor plan to identify the locations of stages, meeting rooms, connected hotels, and exhibitor booths. You can click on a booth to learn more about an exhibitor and jump to their website.

SPI_Expo_Floor_Map

A map of the SPI Expo Floor. Click on the image to visit SPI’s interactive floor plan.

Educational Highlights

There are over 100 education sessions at SPI, many of them on the show floor. Their themes range from distributed energy to grid modernization, finance, policy, asset management, storage, and microgrids. The general sessions, open to all attendees, tend to be highlights. They offer an high-level perspectives on key issues affecting the market from a number of distinguished speakers.

Tuesday’s general session at 8 AM at the Marriott Platinum Ballroom, Turning Positive Solar Attitudes to Positive Results, features such heavy-hitters as SEIA President Abigail Ross Harper, Omar Johnson–Chief Marketing Officer at Beats By Dre and former Apple VP of Marketing, Matt Lewis of the Daily Beast, and former White House Communications Director Jen Psaki. They’ll be discussing how to use data-supported messages to effectively advocate for solar’s growth in the U.S. energy marketplace.

There is something for everyone among the many other educational sessions. Sessions on Tuesday that may be of particular interest (and open to all attendees) include talks addressing the fundamentals of customer acquisition, myths about solar demographics, and strategies for cutting the cost of residential solar. Wednesday includes open access sessions on solar O&M, the “internet of energy,” and key metrics and strategies for running a healthy solar business.

SEIA and GTM Research will be presenting their latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report (Q3 2018) on Thursday at 11:30 AM in Industry Trends, Booth 189–providing a robust look at latest market numbers and trends. 

Building on the theme of industry trends, our own COO, Samuel Adeyemo, will be giving a presentation on The Role of Software in Transforming Solar Design with John Miller, Solar Technology Manager at Black & Veatch Corporation on Tuesday at 1pm on Level 2 in room 202AB. (We’ll be showcasing some brand new tools to take your solar design and sales to the next level!)

Twitter Card final -Transforming Multi-Megawatt Solar Design” on Tuesday, September 25

There are also over 80 educational posters on display all four days of the event in the education corridor, near the walkway to the Westgate Hotel. These great snapshots of current market innovations and issues. There will be presentations of many of them during a reception on Tuesday from 5 - 6 PM. (We’ll be there discussing some of the Top Technologies Changing Solar Design.)

Networking Opportunities

There are over 23 hours of networking events sprinkled throughout the conference–so bring those business cards! These include coffee breaks, job fairs, happy hours (one hosted by SETS specifically for young professionals Wednesday 5 PM at Booth 3386) and even a block party and an Oktoberfest. For job seekers, solar nonprofit Grid Alternatives is hosting a solar job fair on Wednesday from 1 - 4 PM.

There are two events specifically for solar industry women: the Women in Solar Luncheon (largely sold out but you might get tickets on-site) on Wednesday at 12 PM at the Marriott Grand BR Salon E and the Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy happy hour on Wednesday at 4 PM.

Tips for Making SPI Count

With so many great opportunities to choose from, you may be wondering how you can be sure to make the most of your time in Anaheim. Here are some tips from the Aurora team and other industry professionals:

1. Plan. 

As we’ve discussed above, there are a ton of things to see and do at SPI. Avoid getting overwhelmed or missing out on what’s most important to your company by defining your goals and planning out meetings and events you’ll attend each day.

Jeff Spies (Quick Mount PV Sr. Director of Policy, NABCEP Secretary, and Director of the solar documentary Solar Roots) suggests mapping out your plan of action in your event directory.

Jeff Spies Tip- directory + plan

Saving your favorite events on the SPI website and building your schedule is another good approach, as is using the SPI app, as solar marketing expert Tor Valenza suggests.

Solar Fred- Download the App(You can hear more SPI tips from Tor and others in an episode of Suncast, a podcast that interviews solar thought leaders.)

2. Connect.

One of the most valuable benefits of SPI is the chance to meet face-to-face and build relationships with other solar industry professionals, be they existing or potential partners, customers, or those you want to learn from.

Solar distributor BayWa r.e. recommends making appointments in advance (even the day before) to get some dedicated time with a company.  John-Ross Cromer who runs the solar training site Community.Solar suggests that this is a great time to try out new tools to make sure you keep track of contact information and can effectively stay in touch with those you meet.

Community.Solar- outreach tools

3. Recharge.

Long days of meetings, conference sessions, and walking the show floor can leave anyone exhausted. Make sure to take take care of yourself so you can bring your full energy to the experience. That includes hydrating, getting enough sleep, and taking periodic breaks.

Sam Tip- Stay Hydrated

4. Follow up.

Finally, don’t let your new insights and connections go to waste by failing to act on them when you get home. In their SPI roundup, Baywa r.e. recommends scheduling a team meeting shortly after you get back. This way you can capture ideas while the memories are fresh and map out actionable next steps.

We wish you a successful SPI experience and hope to see you there!


P.S. We’re unveiling some exciting new developments at SPI so make time to stop by the Aurora booth (138)  Plus, we're offering a free high-resolution shade report to anyone who visits and shares their business card or scans their badge!

Aurora SPI Location Version 4-1

Topics: Industry Events

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