Electrify Everything with Collective Power
Streamlining the complex permitting process, building partnerships with utilities, and deploying clean energy technology like home solar, batteries, and electric vehicles on a national scale will help meet the Biden Administration's climate ambitions.
The Biden Administration's ambitious plans to tackle the climate crisis places renewable energy at the center of its climate agenda. Here's how President Biden can help meet those goals with the clean energy technologies we have at our fingertips.
"Electrifying our economy can create 25 million good-paying jobs. Investing in distributed solar and batteries alone will create 2 million jobs."
The future of reaching zero emissions by 2050 is straightforward: Electrify everything. Make room for electric vehicle charging; put solar panels on roofs; install batteries in our homes and communities. These technologies are rapidly expanding thanks to American ingenuity, friendly policies, and a public appreciation for localizing energy. They are cheaper, too. The nonprofit, Rewiring America, says households will save nearly $2,000 each year once they electrify their lives. On average, Americans spend $4,700 each year on transportation, heating, and electricity. We can cut that number in half if we electrify all of our homes. Not only that, electrifying our homes, schools, churches, and businesses will create millions of new jobs.
Electrifying our economy can create 25 million good-paying jobs. Investing in distributed solar and batteries alone will create 2 million jobs. We can make this happen in just 15 years if we rapidly accelerate this transition.
Sunrun: Building a Virtual Power Plant for a more resilient energy grid, October 3, 2019.
Electrifying our lives offers more than job creation and money savings. We will also create a more resilient and reliable energy system for everyone. I witnessed this firsthand in California as millions of people lost power during rolling blackouts last summer. Solar and batteries across the state discharged the equivalent amount of power to the grid as a small natural gas plant, lessening the severity of the blackouts. As co-founder and CEO of Sunrun, a California-based home solar provider, it was an impressive moment when our customers literally helped keep the lights on and mitigate blackouts as utilities and grid operators leaned on local solar and batteries.
"Virtual power plants reduce costs for all energy consumers by decreasing the need for massive investments in poles and wires while eliminating the need for distant, expensive, and polluting fossil fuel plants…"
Harnessing the collective power of rooftop solar and batteries -- or creating virtual power plants -- is catching the eye of policymakers and nationwide utilities across the nation as they’ve seen the benefits this technology brings to the grid right now. Virtual power plants reduce costs for all energy consumers by decreasing the need for massive investments in poles and wires while eliminating the need for distant, expensive, and polluting fossil fuel plants typically used during periods of high energy demand.
Heather Zichal and Amanda Little WW0 Facebook Live conversation broadcast on 2/18/2021.
Many states are embracing distributed energy resources -- like rooftop solar and batteries -- into virtual power plants to ease integrating renewable energy. States like New York and California, and US territories like Puerto Rico want connected clean energy systems to help create clean and resilient grids.
In fact, Sunrun just signed an agreement with one of California's largest utilities, Southern California Edison, to create a virtual power plant for its customers. Other partnerships include Hawaii's largest utility, HECO, and a first-of-its-kind wholesale energy market bid that knits thousands of customers together to provide power for the entire region of New England. In total, Sunrun has announced and currently operates 12 virtual power plants across the country.
"The more people who adopt solar and batteries, the less expensive it will be for everyone, and the faster we can electrify our lifestyles to hit zero emissions by 2050."
TED: How to decarbonize the grid and electrify everything, John Doerr and Hal Harvey conversation on November 19, 2020.
Fully electrifying every home in America should be more simple than it is today. The biggest obstacle: local bureaucratic red tape. Long permitting processes and even longer installation times cost valuable time and money for everyone. Compared to some European countries and Australia, Americans pay twice as much to install a solar system.
In December 2020, Congress approved funding to help local governments improve solar permitting. And, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and others are working together to craft a portal for county and city governments to move solar application materials online. The project is called Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) and the early pilots have shown the portals are ready to be replicated across the country. With more people working from home than ever, making reliable and affordable power is all the more essential. This project is a big step toward making it easier for people to get reliable solar and battery technology as quickly and safely as possible.
We have less than a decade to reverse our impact on the climate crisis. Like anything, the more people who adopt solar and battery technology, the less expensive it will become. That means we can electrify our lifestyles faster and hit zero emissions in time.