Recently, the value to the national electric grid of solar and other renewable energy sources has been questioned. As can be seen from the numerous studies referenced in this paper, solar and renewables provide significant benefits to the national grid in terms of reliability, fuel diversity, and security. In addition, the 9,000 American solar companies employ over 260,000 American workers and invest tens of billions of dollars every year into the American economy. Photovoltaic technology was invented in the U.S.A., developed as a marketable energy source in the U.S.A., and last year was the largest single source of electric generating capacity in the U.S.A. America should maintain its global leadership in solar.
Despite solar's spectacular growth over the last decade, it still makes up only 1.4% of the nation's total electricity mix. By 2020 solar is expected to represent close to 4% of total electricity generated. The studies cited in this briefing paper, many of them done by the U.S. Department of Energy or its national laboratories, make very clear that our national grid is more than capable of accommodating much higher levels of solar, even with today's technologies.