NEW BRUNSWICK – Solar power is growing so fast in New Jersey that goals once considered ambitious are now seen as readily achievable, according to a new report by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center.
“We can get to 20 percent solar in New Jersey by 2025 if we just keep our foot on the accelerator,” said David Beavers, Campaign Organizer with Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center. “That’s a small fraction of what’s possible, but it will make a big difference in the quality of our lives and the future of our planet.”
According to the report, “Star Power: The Growing Role of Solar Energy in New Jersey,” achieving this goal would cut as much carbon pollution as 2.6 million cars emit in a year and would put New Jersey more than three-quarters of the way to the benchmark set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which requires a 43% reduction in power plant carbon emissions.
“New Jersey has already proven itself to be a national leader in solar installation, and we have an opportunity to cultivate our immense potential to facilitate the transition into a cleaner energy economy,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). “It is imperative that Congress continue investing in clean energy technologies and extend solar energy tax credits to help foster continued growth.”
New Jersey has become a leader in solar energy, with the third most installed capacity in the nation, thanks in large part to forward-thinking policy at the state and local levels, and the political will exists to pave the way for continued solar growth.
“The growth of solar energy is driven in large part by the adoption of bold solar goals,” according to State Senator Bob Smith (D-17). “To retain our status as a leader in solar energy and in the transition to a clean energy economy, New Jersey should adopt goals like 20% solar by 2025 and 80% renewable by 2050. While these goals are ambitious, New Jersey has the capabilities of meeting them.”
The report quantifies New Jersey’s enormous solar energy potential using data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and also outlines a set of federal, state, and local policy recommendations that would facilitate the realization of the solar target.
“Where New Jersey can take advantage of utilizing more solar power, we should, particularly where it acts towards achieving a goal of generating 20% of our electricity from solar by 2025,” said State Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-29). “Information in the report suggests that this is feasible, and New Jersey should be proactive in reaching these goals.”
Solar is currently the fastest growing industry in the country, with New Jersey helping to set the pace. In the previous three years, solar power installations have grown in New Jersey by an average of 66 percent, the report shows. A growth rate of just one third of that would allow the state to have enough installed solar capacity to meet 20 percent of its electricity consumption in just over a decade.
“Mercer County is proud of the role we have played in promoting solar energy in our region, dedicating a significant portion of our community college campus to create a 50 acre solar farm that generates 10 mega-watts of renewable energy and thereby reduces our carbon footprint,” according to Andrew Koontz, Chair of the Mercer County Board of Freeholders. “We can and should do more. It is in our environmental and economic interest for local leaders to do what they can to help New Jersey reach its full solar potential.”
“New Jersey has the solar potential to meet our energy needs five times over,” said Beavers. “When it comes to solar energy, the sky’s the limit, and getting to 20 percent solar is a significant step towards a future powered entirely by clean, renewable energy.”
Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center investigates problems, crafts solutions, educates the public and decision-makers, and helps New Jerseyans make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, please visit www.environmentnewjerseycenter.org.