GWSI Examines MIT's Future of Solar Energy Study

Future of Solar
May 18, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, the GW Solar Institute (GWSI) released its analysis of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative's (MITEI) recent study on The Future of Solar Energy. GWSI highlights several misleading policy recommendations that it argues detract from the many technical insights and long-term vision contained in the 352-page study. This analysis also appears in Renewable Energy World.

GWSI finds that the study delivers a particularly unbalanced treatment of distributed generation and investment-based policies that appears at odds with study's analytical results. GWSI also summarizes five key missing points from The Future of Solar Energy:

  1. Net metering policies currently provide a fair proxy for the value of distributed generation in most regions.
  2. The costs of modernizing the electric grid should not fall disproportionately on new users.
  3. Policies should catalyze the innovation chain across all stages, from research to deployment.
  4. Political and pragmatic realities should be important considerations and applied consistently.
  5. Unlike other proposed measures, the investment tax credit supports emerging technologies, geographic diversity, and a more equitable distribution of taxpayer dollars.

These missing points cloud what otherwise would be a bright long-term vision for the future, on which GWSI and MITEI agree:

  • Mitigating anthropogenic climate change will require a massive increase in solar energy use.
  • Modernizing the U.S. electric grid and deploying new solar technologies will become increasingly important over the coming decades but require considerable investments today.
  • Reforming electricity rates to be more representative of the full, real-time costs and benefits from generation, transmission, and distribution is essential.
  • Continuing federal and state support beyond 2016 is critical for solar to emerge as a main energy source by mid-century.