ASAP (American Solar Action Plan) is a non-profit organization building public understanding about how solar, wind and hydrogen produced from water can make the
United States energy self-sufficient.
Update 2020: The Terawatt PV Challenge, 2021-2050:
The U.S. is on target to meet the Solar Grand Plan’s solar and wind capacity projections for 2020. ASAP participated in the publication of ‘A Grand Plan for
Solar Energy’ in the December 2008 issue of Scientific American. In Phase One of the Solar Grand Plan, 2010-2020, the U.S. solar electricity generating capacity
forecast is 84 GW (gigawatts or one billion watts). Based on EIA estimates, the actual installed solar capacity in 2020 will be about 76 GW. The wind electricity
generating capacity forecast in the Solar Grand Plan for 2020 is 110 GW, and the EIA estimate of installed wind capacity in 2020 is 124 GW.
The objectives of Phase One are to bring solar manufacturing to optimum-scale production levels, which has been achieved by several photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing
companies, and to minimize installation costs. At present, the EIA reports that the installed cost for utility-scale, ground-mounted, PV tracking systems
is $1.33 per watt, which is lower than the Solar Grand Plan’s projection of $1.30 per watt for PV non-tracking systems. Therefore, the PV industry has
successfully met 2020 cost targets.
A PV tracking system produces about 40% more electricity on an annual basis than a PV fixed-angle system. Also, it should be noted that PV systems are
preferred to solar thermal systems. Solar thermal systems comprise only 2 GW of the total 76 GW of installed solar capacity, and no new solar thermal
installations have been commissioned in the past five years.
There are significant challenges ahead. Most importantly, there is a need for large-scale energy storage to smooth variable solar and wind
electricity supply. At present, battery and molten salt storage is being used for peak shaving, but much more focus needs to be given to energy
storage for wind and solar electricity to completely replace existing fossil fuel generating capacity.
With the knowledge and experience gained we move to Phase Two of the Solar Grand Plan, 2021-2050. Phase Two presents the “terawatt challenge,” which calls for
the cumulative installation of 1.0 terawatts (one trillion watts) of solar capacity and 1.0 TW (terawatt) of wind capacity by 2050. At
present, U.S. cumulative solar capacity is 76 GW. To reach the terawatt goal requires an average new installed PV capacity rate of 35 GW/year. For
wind to reach 1.0 TW of capacity by 2050 also requires an average new installed wind capacity rate of 35 GW/year.
The societal costs of climate change scenarios, from best to worst over the period 2020-2100, are very sobering. And when the climate change outlook is
extended to the period 2100-2200, the societal costs of climate change become staggering. Climate change scientists are unified in their concern that
climate change outlooks are increasingly disturbing. The longer we delay in making a total commitment to a solar and wind energy system and steep carbon
dioxide reduction, the greater the costs we transfer to our children and grandchildren. The goal is achievable, but only if there is unified
government, business and public support.
Solar Grand Plan:
All the pieces of this world-changing plan actually exist and have been described in
the January 2008 Scientific American “Solar Grand Plan” article, which was co-authored
by ASAP. The object is to stabilize energy prices for generations to come by adopting the lowest cost, unsubsidized solar and wind production and distribution systems.
We believe it is only a lack of public awareness that prevents the Plan from being immediately adopted.
The United States has an abundance of solar and wind energy potential – enough to supply its entire energy needs. This can be done using existing technology and at an affordable price. To get
there requires a coordinated national-level effort. The steps are:
Build solar PV plants in the sun-rich desert Southwest
- U.S. located PV manufacturing plants
- Build wind farms in the wind-rich Midwest
Build electricity storage to designed to smooth variable PV and wind electricity supply
- Compressed air energy storage (CAES)
- Molten Salt
- Construction of a HVDC transmission system to transport PV and wind electricity nationwide
All electric transportation
- Battery electric vehicles
- Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles
Conversion to electric home and commercial space heating
- Advanced heat pump technology
Electrification of the total U.S. energy system is the only effective way to combat global warming. The largest uses for fossil fuels are electricity generation, transportation, home/commercial
space heating, and industrial processes. Electricity demand will increase significantly to accommodate transportation and space heating. Public adoption of electric cars is important
if we want to end transportation carbon emissions, which is important since transportation accounts for 70% of U.S. oil consumption.
An all PV and wind electricity system will allow us to expand domestic jobs and economic well-being while providing us with a sustainable and emissions free energy path for the future.
The use of carbon-free solar and wind electricity allows us to reduce CO2 emissions in 2100 by 92% below current levels. It is important for the rest of the world to follow suit if global warming is to be tamed.