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Business, Solar, and the Green New Deal

Business, Solar, and the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal, a nonbinding resolution introduced by Senators Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey, has sparked a lot of discussion over the last several weeks. It is an ambitious plan to confront man-made climate change while also building an American economy that prioritizes renewable energy, innovation, and job creation. As such, it would have a tremendous impact on the solar energy industry (as well as other alternatives to fossil fuels) and the business community as a whole.

As BusinessInsider notes, “this type of rhetoric is arguably ‘the first time that the US — or any major Western economy — has proposed a comprehensive 20-year plan for a green transition.’” The magnitude of what the Green New Deal proposes has raised concerns and objections from those who feel it is too ambitious. Indeed, “the plan would involve major changes to the US' infrastructure, electricity grids, and transportation systems to make them more sustainable and energy-efficient.” However, many professionals in the solar industry and larger business community acknowledge that these sweeping changes are necessary to fight climate change, and “Green New Deal supporters see the plan as a way to take on that enormous threat while stimulating the national economy at the same time.”

How the Green New Deal Impacts Business

A recent article in Harvard Business Review examines how the Green New Deal might impact businesses, and what they can do to prepare, adjust, and help in making this important effort successful. Written by two researchers who have studied the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy technologies, the piece acknowledges the costs of such a large undertaking and argues that “taking advantage of these early opportunities will not only help transform and protect vulnerable communities, it will also allow companies to secure new modes of revenue.”

The authors propose two complementary ways for businesses to lead the way during this transition and create new opportunities at the same time. First, “Companies can help reduce the burdens of the energy transition by supporting economically sustainable low-carbon initiatives,” particularly in areas that are hardest-hit economically by the move away from coal. Creating new economic opportunities through investment in these communities “can help revive stagnating local economies and insulate them from the downsides of the transition.”

In addition, “two new energy business models have evolved over the past decade that demonstrate possibilities for specifically targeting vulnerable populations.” These are subscription-based community solar projects and energy service companies (ESCOs). We’ve discussed community-based solar projects such as microgrids as a way to provide stable, efficient energy for small or large communities. Businesses that invest in these projects help pave the way for sustainable change while also serving communities that would otherwise suffer from disproportionate energy costs. “In ESCOs, firms help other companies design a plan for energy savings through energy efficiency, conservation, or by installing new renewable energy technologies on-site.” Both of these opportunities aid in the transition to a green economy and provide avenues for businesses to benefit while helping vulnerable populations.

Solar Industry Impacts

The solar industry in the U.S. is already booming, contributing technological innovation and creating a large share of new job opportunities. The Green New Deal would turbocharge the already fast-expanding solar sector. Pacific Standard reveals that “a 100 percent emissions cut” like the one proposed by the Green New Deal “might... create a net 6.8 million jobs” across renewable energy industries. Emerging opportunities in the solar industry would include education and professional development for new workers as well as the creation, manufacturing, design, installation, and maintenance of solar technologies.

The Green New Deal represents a massive shift in the priorities of the American economy, but many experts believe it can (and must) be done. As Harvard Business Review notes, “If companies making positive inroads on climate protection flourish, then the communities where those companies are working have a real chance to thrive.” The solar industry and the business community as a whole must take advantage of these opportunities to help pave the way.

At Solar Design Studio, we’re excited to be on the forefront of a changing, renewable economy. We work with business, industrial, and residential clients to build solar solutions that save money and mitigate environmental impacts. Contact us today to learn more!

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Bob Solger is Mr. Solar to the Kansas City region. With a passion to forge change and be green well before it was cool to do so, Bob has led the regional market as an engineer and spokesperson for the adoption of solar energy. He completes his projects professionally and continues to inspire by teaching others how to get the most from solar installations.

Ace Wagner

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