New SEIA Nonprofit Serves to Advance Solar Industry Research, Policies

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a 501(c), nonprofit, is launching to accelerate the transition towards carbon-free electricity through clean power research and analysis.

The Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2) will serve as SEIA’s charitable and educational arm, using research, public education initiatives, and policymaker engagement to remove barriers to clean energy deployment.

SI2 will incubate and propose new solutions to encourage the growth and development of the storage and solar industry. The organization will also address the most important challenges facing the storage industry, including land use concerns and antiquated rate design, workforce development and environmental justice, as well as interconnection roadblocks. All this in an effort to combat climate changes and create a more equitable clean-energy economy.

“We largely have the technologies we need to address the climate crisis, but several barriers remain to widespread adoption of solar and storage,” says Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO and the new chair of SI2’s board of directors. “The window for climate action is narrowing quickly, and we must double down on the clean energy research and analysis needed to dismantle systemic challenges that are holding back the solar and storage industry.”

David Gahl, SEIA’s current senior director of state policy, East, will lead SI2’s work and serve as the institute’s first executive director.

“I’m thrilled to take on this challenge and work with a diverse range of stakeholders to solve the most pressing issues facing America’s clean energy sector,” states Gahl. “SI2 offers the solar and storage industry a special opportunity to harness its creativity and use innovative thinking to chart a new path to a carbon-free future and an equitable clean energy economy.”

The organization will address a wide range of issues, but one issue that is causing concern in the solar industry is land usage. It takes community engagement and long-term planning to ensure that clean energy projects have minimal impact on the environment and the surrounding community. These projects must also consider the availability of transmission lines, upgrades to the grid infrastructure, as well as other factors that could affect the outcome. SI2’s first research project will create best practices for solar companies looking to create large-scale solar projects and other resources that will help the industry navigate these challenges.

In addition to Gahl’s role as executive director and Hopper’s role as board chair, SOLV Energy CEO George Hershman is serving as SI2’s board secretary, and Nautilus Solar co-CEO Laura Stern is board treasurer.

“We applaud SEIA’s efforts to launch SI2 in an effort to tackle barriers to clean energy deployment head-on,” comments Stern. “It’s exciting to be at the forefront of an initiative that will make significant progress to combat climate change and create a clean, sustainable future by offering an equitable and affordable renewable energy choice.”

“Over the last decade the solar industry has been a beacon of innovation, persevering through numerous challenges to emerge as a leading provider of cost-effective energy in the United States,” mentions Hershman. “A brighter future powered by clean energy is possible, and the formation of SI2 will help establish a direct road map to more efficient solar and storage deployment for generations to come.”

Today, approximately 4% of U.S. electricity is generated by solar energy. By 2030, solar energy will account for 30% of all electricity generation in the United States. This would reduce electricity sector emissions by half. If the industry meets its Solar+ Decade goals it will create more $800 billion of economic activity and more than a million well-paid jobs. However, there are significant red tape and supply chain obstacles that prevent solar and storage businesses from reaching this goal.

SI2 will be working closely with SEIA, and will rely on its staff and resources as the organization grows. SI2 will expand the organization and seek additional funding sources. SI2 also plans to build its staff and announce other priorities and initiatives.