Benefits of Solar

Benefits of Solar

Solar, coupled with energy storage, is the backbone of California’s Zero Carbon Plan, and the technology has advanced to the point where solar is now the leading cost-effective renewable resource, with costs 80% lower today than ten years ago. Solar technology is safe and durable, with panels often warrantied for 30 years or more. 

Solar projects also bring several benefits to local communities and the lands that they occupy. Projects have the ability to create new habitat for species – both on the project site and through mitigation measures. In fact, many of today’s solar projects, particularly those built on already-disturbed lands, are seeing a species resurgence onsite, with both plants and animals building new habitat within project fence lines.  

Projects built today have inherent dust control capabilities and can be an ideal land use, particularly on disturbed lands or those with water constraints.

Solar projects also create good jobs. According to the National Solar Jobs Census, California ranked first in 2022 with the number of solar jobs in the nation with a total of 78,116 in the state.1


Photo courtesy AES Photos

Policy Focus Areas

Photo courtesy AES Photos

By 2035, California faces the task of adding 86,000MW of new utility-scale renewables to the grid, including more than 39,000 MW of utility-scale solar2. The land requirements for these targets deserves careful consideration given the state’s competing demands for land. 

Agricultural land makes up more than half of California’s private lands. Adapting land use policies to facilitate solar energy, particularly on agricultural lands with water constraints, can help achieve not only state climate targets, but also local goals economic and workforce goals. 

Updating state and local permitting policies can also expedite the pace of building new clean energy resources without compromising environmental protections. Creating clear and consistent permitting and mitigation strategies can help accelerate permitting processes and provide certainty to communities and developers. 

2 + 70 GW by 2045, 2021 SB 100 Joint Agency Report (2021 Report)

Achieving California’s climate goals requires significant expansion of the state’s transmission and distribution network. In its first 20-Year Transmission Outlook published in 2022, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) projected more than $30 billion in new transmission needs over the next two decades to meet California’s grid decarbonization targets.

Historically, the transmission development process has been fraught with delays, complexity and high costs, with major new infrastructure frequently requiring a decade or more to plan, permit, and construct. In addition to state identification of the necessary new transmission lines and upgrades, new tools to expedite the permitting and environmental review of transmission lines are critical to bringing new clean energy resources to load centers.

The size and scope of the buildout necessary to achieve the state’s climate targets is unprecedented and will benefit greatly from supportive public discourse and engagement. We must work together to create a statewide awareness that highlights the critical role of clean energy and transmission, how they will help to meet state climate objectives, and how local citizens and communities – and their economies – can benefit.