Washington, DC — The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is launching a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
The solar industry organization says it intends to use the nonprofit to accelerate the transition to carbon-free electricity through clean energy research and analysis. The Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2), as its called, 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 propose and incubate new solutions that encourage the growth of the solar and storage industry. The organization will also tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the solar and storage industry, like land-use concerns, antiquated rate designs, workforce development and environmental justice, and interconnection roadblocks, all to combat climate change 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,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA 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,” said 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.”
While the organization will focus on a variety of issues, one emerging challenge in the solar industry is land use. Siting clean energy projects require community engagement and long-term planning that minimizes impact to the environment and surrounding community. These projects must also account for access to transmission lines, upgrades to grid infrastructure, and several other factors that can affect the outcome of a large-scale solar project.
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. The nonprofit will work closely with SEIA and lean on its staff and resources while the organization establishes itself. As the organization grows and secures additional funding sources, SI2 will build its team and announce additional priorities and initiatives.