New report shows importance of expanding solar heating and cooling

The proliferation of solar heating and cooling systems would create 50,250 U.S. jobs and save more than $61 billion in future energy costs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

October 04, 2013

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released a new report outlining ways to create 50,250 new American jobs and save more than $61 billion in future energy costs by expanding the use of innovative and cost-effective solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems across the nation.

Prepared by BEAM Engineering, a Boston-based consulting firm that focuses on energy system design and implementation, the report provides a roadmap for dramatically increasing SHC capacity in the U.S. from 9 gigawatts (GW) thermal to 300 GW thermal by 2050 through the installation of 100 million new SHC solar panels nationwide. Thermal energy is typically measured in terms of British Thermal Units (BTUs) but can also be converted to watts.
 
Approximately 44 percent of American energy consumption is attributable to heating and cooling. According to projections by BEAM Engineering, ramping up the installation of SHC systems across America would allow the U.S. to generate nearly 8 percent of its total heating and cooling needs through solar energy. SHC is an efficient renewable technology for generating thermal heat and costs are as low as 6 cents per kilowatt (kWh) hour.
 
“Part of our challenge is to do a better job of educating policymakers—at both the state and federal level—about the enormous benefits SHC provides to American consumers and businesses, as well as to the U.S. economy,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch in a release.
 
Another big advantage of SHC, according to the report, is the positive impact it has on the environment.
 
“With ambitious targets and a smart, easy-to-understand strategy now in place, SHC can help to displace an estimated 226 million tons of carbon emissions annually. That’s the equivalent of taking 47 million passenger cars off the road,” said Ole Pilgaard, who chaired the task force that helped develop the new SHC roadmap.
 
In addition to creating new jobs and reducing electricity costs, BEAM Engineering says the SHC roadmap provides other advantages, including:
 
• Saving $19.1 billion to homeowners, businesses, schools, and government by deferring the need for electric and natural gas infrastructure expansion and repairs
 
• Raising $2.1 billion annually in increased federal tax revenue through job creation and economic growth
 
• Increasing America’s annual manufacturing GDP by $1.4 billion
 

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