We can get the Bay State to 1 million solar roofs – Environment America

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Not too long ago, the idea of putting solar on 1 million roofs across our state would’ve seemed impossible. But now, that ambitious goal is within reach.

The urgency to transition Massachusetts away from fossil fuels, which pollute our air and warm our planet, has never been greater. Solar power is clean, local and abundant, and will play a key role in the clean energy transition. 

This is why Environment Massachusetts is calling on state officials to bring the equivalent of 1 million solar rooftops — 10 gigawatts of solar capacity — to Massachusetts by 2030.

How much energy could Massachusetts get from rooftop solar?

According to a study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, rooftop solar panels could generate up to 47 percent of the electricity used in Massachusetts in 2016. 

And we’re on our way to tapping that potential. In 2022, Massachusetts was among the top ten states in the nation for solar, with nearly 4.3 gigawatts of solar capacity installed. In 2022, Massachusetts generated 3,419 GWh of clean energy from small-scale solar– the equivalent of powering nearly 319,000 homes. As rooftop solar adoption grows, costs have come down. The per-watt cost of residential solar panels has fallen by about 70% in the last 20 years (adjusted for inflation) and continues to fall, making it cheaper for property owners to go solar.

Tim O’Connor | Used by permission
Environment Massachusetts’ Lydia Churchill releasing findings from recent report, Rooftop Solar on the Rise.

What are the environmental benefits of rooftop solar?

Massachusetts biggest environmental challenge is climate change. From rising sea levels threatening parts of Massachusetts such as East Boston and the Cape, to droughts and extreme and unpredictable weather destroying farms in the western part of the state, Bay Staters are experiencing the impacts of climate change first-hand.

Over the next several decades, Massachusetts will need to repower its economy with clean, renewable energy – and do so with as little impact as possible on wildlife and wild places.

Rooftop solar power is a key tool in the fight against climate change. Solar energy on homes, schools, farms and other buildings can be deployed at the speed and scale required to meet the climate crisis, and it can do so while contributing to a resilient, ecologically vibrant future for Massachusetts.

Installing more rooftop solar can increase renewable electricity generation while protecting the state’s open spaces and helping to make communities more resilient to global warming-related disruptions to the power grid.

Tim O’Connor | Used by permission
Environment Massachusetts, joined by state Rep. Tommy Vitolo and coalition partners at Mass Audubon and Mothers Out Front gather at a solar home in Brookline to release recent report, Rooftop Solar on the Rise.

How can Massachusetts realize its solar potential? 

While Massachusetts has long been a leader in small-scale solar adoption – ranking 4th in the nation for small-scale solar installed in 2022– there is more progress to be made.The Bay State is only tapping 10.8% of its rooftop solar capacity in 2022.

Where are some of the places we can install solar power? 

  • Warehouses: The big, flat rooftops of warehouses are great locations for solar panels. Putting solar panels on every suitable warehouse rooftop in Massachusetts would produce as much electricity as 379,000 typical American homes use in a year. 
  • Superstores: Large retail buildings in Massachusetts could host enough solar panels to provide the equivalent of the electricity used by 134,329 households. 
  • Houses of worship: Churches and other houses of worship can benefit from new tax incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act to make it more affordable than ever to “go solar.”
  • Homes and small commercial buildings: Across America, solar panels on small buildings, including homes, have the potential to produce enough solar power for nearly 86 million typical homes.

Isaac Russell | Used by permission

The power of setting clean energy goals

Setting a goal is a powerful tool to kickstart a collective endeavor. It makes shared ideas real by giving them concrete delivery dates and creates the space for the discoveries, innovations and actions that bring the seemingly impossible in reach.  Setting a goal in Massachusetts of 10 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2030 with interim benchmarks will help drive the action to hit those goals, and bring the benefits of clean energy to our state.

How else can Massachusetts grow solar power? 

In addition to setting goals, Massachusetts leaders can eliminate unnecessary roadblocks to solar development, ensure fair compensation for solar generation, and expand access to solar energy for all Massachusetts residents.

Legislation is being considered at the state level to streamline the permitting and interconnection processes of solar installations– this would reduce costs, barriers, and delays associated with going solar. 

With eager leaders on Beacon Hill, now is the perfect time to set our sights on a brighter future powered by clean energy from the sun.

Learn more about rooftop solar on the rise.

A million solar roofs for Massachusetts

solar panels on homes

solar panels on homes

Solar power

A million solar roofs for Massachusetts

If we correct course and institute more pro-solar policies, by 2030 Massachusetts can install 10 gigawatts of solar capacity, the equivalent of 1 million solar roofs.

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Lydia is spearheading campaigns to transition Massachusetts to 100% clean, renewable energy to make our homes and buildings more efficient, and to enact policies to incentivize the widespread adoption of solar rooftops. In her free time, Lydia enjoys ballet, crochet and cooking.

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