Report: New England Will Need to Accelerate Solar and Storage Deployment to Meet 2050 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

September 25th, 2019

Report finds that 4 to 7 gigawatts of new clean energy is needed annually to meet legislative targets

 

Boston, MA —  The Brattle Group today released a new report that estimates that New England will need to add between 4 and 7 gigawatts (GW) of new clean energy capacity every year to achieve an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Commissioned by the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), the report estimates that decarbonizing the region even with significant advances in energy efficiency will substantially increase electricity demand and that solar and offshore wind will be particularly critical components to meeting that goal. 

Specifically, Brattle estimates that between 2 and 5 GWs of new solar capacity will be needed annually in New England through 2050, more than 10x per year what is currently planned.

“These findings remind us why New England can’t waiver in its commitment to clean energy generation like community solar,” said Jeff Cramer, executive director for CCSA. “With the cost of solar at an all-time low–and with the increasing ability to pair solar with cost-effective energy storage–it is essential that community solar continues to provide a significant amount of affordable, local, and clean electricity to help the region achieve its critical and ambitious goals.”

According to the report, titled “Achieving 80% GHG Reduction in New England by 2050: Why We Need to Keep the Foot on the Clean Energy Accelerator,” at the current rate of clean energy deployment, the region will fall short of its emissions targets. Specifically, it cites:

  • Decarbonization–and the electrification of transportation and buildings it requires–will create significant new electric demand, likely doubling or more New England’s electric usage;
  • Even under the most diversified and conservative scenarios envisioned, Brattle estimates New England will need to deploy 4 GW of clean energy per year by 2050 to meet its emissions targets — including approximately 2 GW of solar per year and Massachusetts will likely be responsible for just under 50% of these needs;
  • Large amounts of storage paired with a small amount of remaining gas will be needed to ensure reliability, particularly during the cold winter months in New England.

The report’s findings are released while the Massachusetts’ Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is considering changes to its SMART program that, without improvements, would curtail development of ground-mounted solar in the Commonwealth, including community solar. With 3-out-of-4 Massachusetts households not suitable for rooftop solar, community solar is critical to expanding access to solar energy regardless of housing type or income level.

CCSA is actively working with a broad group of industry and environmental stakeholders to encourage Massachusetts and other New England states to recognize the benefits and urgency of adopting policies that will allow for the greater deployment of community-scale solar, as demonstrated in the findings of the report released today. 

The Achieving 80% GHG Reduction in New England by 2050: Why We Need to Keep the Foot on the Clean Energy Accelerator report can be found HERE

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The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) is a national Coalition of businesses and nonprofits working to expand customer choice and access to solar to all American households and businesses through community solar. Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credits on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. Community solar provides homeowners, renters, and businesses equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their home or business. Community solar expands access to solar for all, including low-to-moderate income customers, all while building a stronger, distributed, and more resilient electric grid. For more information, visit our website at www.communitysolaraccess.org, follow us on Twitter at @solaraccess and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/communitysolaraccess.