Frontier Group


New Report: Star Power – The Growing Role of Solar Energy in America

Our current, outdated electricity grid relies on polluting fossil fuels to provide us with electricity - the time is now to harness America's vast solar energy resources and stop relying on these dirty energy sources. Our new report, Star Power: The Growing Role of Solar Energy in America, calls on local, state and federal government officials to set clear goals and adopt strong pro-solar policies to generate at least 10 percent of America's electricity from solar energy by 2030.

Judee Burr

Policy Analyst

Imagine continuing to use toxic indoor gas lamps after light bulbs were widely available, or opting for bisphenol A-lined plastic bottles, even after the material was found to cause cancer.

Continuing to get our electricity from fossil fuels that contaminate the air we breathe and the water we drink and enjoy is equally nonsensical. Fossil fuel-fired power plants produce 70 percent of the nation’s sulfur dioxide emissions and 40 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions – pollutants known to cause respiratory disease and global warming.

By harnessing just a fraction of America’s vast solar potential using existing technologies, we can dramatically clean up our electricity grid. Our new report, Star Power: The Growing Role of Solar Energy in America, challenges our local, state and federal government officials to set goals and implement policies to spur America to meet at least 10 percent of our nation’s electricity needs with solar power by 2030. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that we can achieve this level of solar energy adoption and more:

  • Solar energy adoption is already exploding across the country. Installed solar photovoltaic capacity grew at a compound annual rate of 77 percent between 2010 and 2013, and, by the end of 2013, the United States had enough solar capacity to power more than 3.2 million homes.
  • The decreasing costs of solar panels, coupled with strong pro-solar policies in many key states, mean that more Americans can afford to “go solar” – the cost of solar panels dropped 35 percent between 2010 and 2013. 
  • Every state can meet its electricity needs with solar power, and America as a whole can power itself 100 times over by harnessing its solar technical potential.

Solar energy should be a no-brainer: it produces a tiny fraction of the global warming emissions produced by coal and natural gas plants; it consumes 1/500th of the water consumed by coal plants and 1/80th of the water consumed by natural gas plants on a lifecycle basis; and, unlike volatile fossil fuels, which ebb and flow in price and availability, the sun rises every day and we have the technology to store energy for the night. Even electric utilities themselves realize the potential for distributed energy sources like solar energy to transform the electric grid (although they are less excited about the potential for solar energy to cut into their traditional profit streams).

The facts are clear and current trends are taking our country in the right direction – it’s time to set ambitious goals for solar energy adoption and update America’s dirty electric grid.


Judee Burr

Policy Analyst