MIT: ‘Massive’ solar expansion critical for climate

Climate Central: A “massive” global expansion of solar power — possibly enough to supply about a third or more of the world’s electricity — may be necessary by 2050 to reduce the impacts of fossil fuels on the climate, according to a report published by MIT this week.

Solar’s efficiency and abundance make it the clean energy source best suited to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But for it to make a big enough climate difference, the amount of solar power generation capacity on U.S. soil would have to increase from today’s 20 gigawatts to up to 400 gigawatts, or enough to provide power to 80 million homes, Robert Stoner, deputy director of the MIT Energy Initiative and a co-author of the report, said.

The study says that may not happen in the U.S. unless solar industry-supported funding and incentives are almost completely re-imagined. The solar industry currently supports keeping those incentives in place.

Those changes would include scrapping state renewable power generation standards for utilities and directly subsidizing solar power generation in lieu of tax credits, according to the report, “The Future of Solar Energy.” As new ways of funding solar power are being worked out, new technology needs to be developed for solar energy storage, smarter power grid management and new kinds of solar panels that use more abundant raw materials that would help keep solar panel prices low, the study suggests. [Continue reading…]

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