Vermont Solar Pathways
20% of our electricity from solar by 2025
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Vermont is on its way to becoming an advanced solar economy—one in which solar power provides at least 20% of total electricity use, by 2025.
Solar is integral to Vermont meeting its ambitious goal of obtaining 90% of total energy supply from renewable sources by 2050, as outlined in the state’s Comprehensive Energy Plan.
Over the last 2 years the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), with the Department of Public Service and the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), has been coordinating and facilitating a stakeholder process to develop a solar plan for Vermont. This plan, known as the Vermont Solar Pathways, lays out how solar can help meet our environmental, energy, and economic goals. This brochure outlines the key findings from the Vermont Solar Pathways report.
Vermont has enough land and sunlight to meet 20% of electricity needs with solar by 2025.
It would only require approximately 0.1% of Vermont’s land area to meet this goal. Unlike other energy sources, solar is available across the state. Solar can be installed in locations that have little impact on our land use including on roofs, over parking lots, and on closed landfills and other underused places. Similarly, solar can be co-located with grazing animals or wildflowers and other native plants. Careful siting will be important to lower the impact of this transformation.
Generating enough solar power to provide 20% of electricity will require an estimated 1,000 MW (1 gigawatt) of solar capacity.
That’s over 5 times the amount of solar installed in Vermont at the end of 2016. Our electric grid can handle this increased solar generation but thoughtful siting will be required to reduce the need for utility upgrades. In some places, the grid can accommodate much more solar, in other places any additional solar would require very expensive upgrades.
Investing in efficiency and solar can yield economic benefits for Vermonters and is costs less than relying on imported fossil fuel.
While reaching 20% solar requires upfront investment, by 2050 Vermont would see about $8 billion of net benefits, primarily from reducing the amount of gasoline and fuel oil we buy. This does not include the value of reducing carbon dioxide or other environmental benefits. Those benefits are in addition to $8 billion in net savings.
The bars in this graph show cumulative spending on energy and related equipment and infrastructure from today to 2050. The orange lines show the percent of total energy from renewables in 2050. All of the scenarios with aggressive efficiency and high renewable shares cost less than business as usual!
Solar can help low- and moderate-income households afford energy.
Projects that combine solar and efficiency can increase energy affordability for low- and moderate-income households. Renters and people without good sites for solar can join “community solar” systems for lower electric bills.