Clinton has long been pushing for an energy reform in America, and has cited the solar industry as the key to climate change. So what would a Clinton win do for the solar industry? Fast Companywriter Jessica Leber investigated.
Clinton wants to have 500 million photovoltaic panels running by 2020, which would equal a rooftop system on 25 million homes. Is her plan too ambitious, or potentially not ambitious enough? Leber writes:
How far would 140 GW really get us? If you view it from the perspective of a solar company: pretty far. Today’s total installed solar capacity in the U.S. is only 30 gigawatts. Though the industry is supposed to add another 16 GW in 2016 alone, 140 GW is still well above current projections, most of which show solar growing somewhere from 100 GW (according to Greentech Media) to 110 GW (according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA) by 2020. The difference between Clinton’s policy and today’s business as usual growth, then is, at minimum, 30 GW—the equivalent of all of today’s solar growth to date.
When he first heard about Clinton’s solar ambitions, Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower, one of the few larger U.S. solar manufacturers that has survived an influx of cheap foreign imports, thought: "huge deal, game changer." SolarCity’s chief policy officer and former Obama administration energy regulator Jon Wellinghoff is a bit more measured about her goals: "aggressive but doable."