EPA Climate Regulations Strengthen Solar

Continued dependence upon fossil fuels will add gigatonnes of lethal pollution to the global atmosphere, the U.S. National Climate Assessment warned, on a map entitled “How to Cut Global Warming Emissions in Half.” But solarizing our energy infrastructure, in accordance new Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards for coal and natural gas-fired power plants arriving June 2, can both green our grids and energize our portfolios.

That’s the position of a new white paper from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Cutting Carbon Emissions Under 111(d), which takes pains at the start to remind both Wall Street and Main Street that installed U.S. solar capacity is already displacing nearly 17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Emboldened by its legislative authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate pollution, the EPA is through section 111(d) requiring all all states to create compliance plans based a “best system of emission reductions” for federal approval. If the state-made plans don’t pass muster, then the EPA can implement its own.

State or federal, the plan should be solar, argued SEIA. Because business as usual is getting too expensive.

“Even though carbon emissions at the 100 largest power generators in America have declined by 13 percent in recent years, these plants are still generating a staggering 87 percent of the industry’s air pollution,” SEIA spokesperson Ken Johnson told SolarEnergy. “That has to change – and the new EPA air quality standards are likely to require it.”

Energy utilities and other players that take advantages of solar’s environmental and economic power stand to gain quite nicely, if they commit their 111(d) compliance to sunshine. It should be the outright model for the EPA’s “best system of emissions reductions,” the paper explained, but solar can also be used to meet other Clean Air Act requirements. It can also reduce electricity transmission losses, reduce the load on the grid and generate sizable jobs and profits, which the sector has lately done with alarming speed. Solar also decreases water consumption, dodges the exorbitant downstream health costs of dirty fuels, and much more.

States can include solar under section 111(d) by hybridizing their fuel sources with generated heat from concentrated solar power systems, SEIA’s report added, thereby balancing their energy portfolios and making the EPA happy. It can be a “keystone compliance measure,” it concluded. “Embracing solar energy and other renewables is a common sense way to cut carbon emissions and help to protect our increasingly-fragile environment,” Johnson told Solar Energy.

This article appeared at Solar Energy