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Could solar power 40% of the U.S. electric grid by 2035? The Biden administration thinks so

Solar is going to play a massive role in decarbonizing the American power grid, according to a newly released plan by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Solar Futures Study shows that by 2035, solar energy has the "potential to power 40% of the nation's electricity," before ultimately hitting 45% by 2050. Further modeling indicates that the remainder of a carbon-free grid would be supplied by wind (36%), nuclear (11%-13%), hydroelectric (5%-6%) and biopower/geothermal (1%).

The U.S. already installed a record amount of solar in 2020 - 15 gigawatts - to total 76 GW, representing 3% of the current electricity supply. In order to accomplish the above-stated goals, the country would need to install an average of 30 GW of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 and 60 GW per year from 2025-2030. Storage will also enable more flexibility and resilience, while advanced tools like grid-forming inverters, forecasting, and microgrids would play a role in maintaining the reliability and performance of a renewable-dominant grid.

"This is code red. The nation and the world are in peril," President Biden said on Tuesday while visiting areas slammed by Hurricane Ida. "Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives, to our economy. And the threat is here. It's not going to get any better."

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