Download Landmark Solar Energy ResearchThe nonprofit Solar Catalyst Group (a project of Co-op America) and Clean Edge (a research and consulting firm focused on clean-energy technologies) has released a report that outlines what would be required to move solar energy beyond a small, niche market into a thriving industry able to contribute significantly to America’s energy and national security needs.Download Landmark Solar Energy Research Washington, D.C. – December 3, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The nonprofit Solar Catalyst Group (a project of Co-op America) and Clean Edge (a research and consulting firm focused on clean-energy technologies) has released a report that outlines what would be required to move solar energy beyond a small, niche market into a thriving industry able to contribute significantly to America’s energy and national security needs. The Solar Opportunity Assessment Report (SOAR) examines what is needed to grow the U.S. solar industry incrementally into a thriving industry. According to the report, growth can be achieved through “bold audacious measures that could dramatically accelerate the transition to a clean-energy future.” SOAR is based on interviews with more than 30 photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers, system integrators, and industry experts, as well as on additional research. Participants in the survey included solar companies such as BP Solar, Evergreen Solar, PowerLight, Sharp, and Shell Solar, as well as major trade associations, current and past government officials, and consultants. According to the report, while new installations for solar PV systems have experienced a compounded annual growth rate of 24 percent over the past decade in the U.S., the installed base remains frustratingly small. “This report illuminates what the current industry players think it will take to sustain or double current total cumulative installation projections by 2025, as well as outlining a far more ambitious path of capturing ten percent of total U.S. electricity production by 2025,” said Alisa Gravitz, founder of Solar Catalyst Group and executive director of Co-op America Foundation. SOAR identifies a number of key challenges to growing the U.S. solar marketplace, including: its small production scale, which keeps quantities low and prices high; on-again-off-again government funding of solar research and development; a dearth of financing solutions, pricing solar out of reach of most users; and a lack of standardized, plug-and-play systems that would greatly reduce the complexity and cost of designing and installing a solar-energy system. The report focuses on three pathways for solar power’s future over the next quarter-century: Current Growth, Accelerated Growth, and Hypergrowth, and describes the challenges and opportunities within each. The report identifies the three key levers of the solar industry: technology, policy, and finance and three cross-cutting strategies that could help bring solar to scale: education, standardization, and market development and aggregation. SOAR highlights what it would take to pull the various levers and coordinate the various strategies in order to double projected PV installations from 35 gigawatts to 70 gigawatts by 2025. The report also outlines an even grander vision dubbed SHINE (Solar High-Impact National Energy) Project. The SHINE Project calls for 290 gigawatts of cumulative installed PV in the U.S. by 2025, providing 10 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption.