- Former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton revealed the first piece of her campaign's energy policy on Sunday, calling for the U.S. deploy 140 GW of cumulative solar power by 2021 and generate 33% of its electricity from renewables by 2027.
- Clinton has been under increasing pressure from environmentalists, progressive donors, and her opponents for the Democratic nomination to endorse aggressive climate change and energy goals. Last week, green megadonor Tom Steyer called on each candidate to propose climate plans to get the U.S. to 50% renewables by 2030.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has been gaining on Clinton in the polls, has endorsed a carbon tax and has one of the strongest climate records in the senate. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, another Clinton challenger, has proposed a plan he says would get the United States to 100% renewables by 2050.
Clinton's announcement is the first in the race to identify specific resource targets, giving analysts a chance to comment on its feasibility. GTM Research wrote that getting from today's 21.1 GW of installed solar to the Democratic frontrunner's goal of 140 GW is ambitious, but it could be accomplished with the right mix of policies.
GTM's base-case forecast in its latest solar report estimates about 70 GW by the end of the decade, so Clinton's policies would need to double that amount. Whether that happens will largely depend on the extension of the solar investment tax credit, the EPA's Clean Power Plan, and state and local regulations, GTM reports.
On the Republican side, few candidates have made energy issues a focus, other than criticizing President Obama's proposed Clean Power Plan. Former Gov. Jeb Bush said last week in New Hampshire that federal subsidies for fossil fuels and renewable energy should eventually be phased out, but offered no more specifics when pressed by a questioner. By and large, the GOP candidates support an "all of the above" energy strategy, including increased exploration and production of domestic fossil fuel resources, and opposition to the Clean Power Plan.