The Wind Solar Alliance (WSA), formerly known as the Wind Energy Foundation, has a new name, reflecting an increased focus on rapidly deploying wind and solar energy to deliver the maximum economic and environmental benefits. WSA has also expanded its board of directors to include experts on solar energy, including most recently adding two executives from US solar companies, NEXTracker and First Solar. Having led national wind-solar advocacy campaigns for several years through its “A Renewable America” program, WSA saw an opportunity for increased collaboration between the two sectors, compelling the re-brand.
Dan Shugar, NEXTracker founder and CEO, and Colin Meehan, First Solar’s Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs, join leaders from other solar-only, wind-solar, and wind-only companies on the WSA board. The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) CEO, Tom Kiernan, also sits on the WSA board. Mark Alhstrom, President of the Energy Systems Integration Group and one of the nation’s leading experts on integrating renewable energy onto the electricity grid, serves as a board advisor.
WSA will continue to focus on research, communication and advocacy to raise awareness of the benefits of renewable energy. In addition, the organization will give increased attention to addressing the need for policy changes in the Independent System Operators, Public Utility Commissions, and other venues that determine whether renewables will be given a fair opportunity to compete in the electricity marketplace.
Since 2014, WSA’s “A Renewable America” campaign has spurred collaboration with the two leading wind and solar energy trade associations, AWEA and SEIA, and their members on research, communications and policy advocacy. Since its inception, the campaign has worked in support of key federal and state policy initiatives, such as the 2015 extensions of the federal Production and Investment Tax Credits, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and the 2016 update of Illinois’ renewable portfolio standard.
WSA’s education and advocacy campaigns (the Grid Campaign, the Renewable Energy Jobs Tour, and Electric Nation: Powered by Wind) are supported with funds from major foundations, AWEA and SEIA, and leading wind and solar companies. The campaigns mobilize leaders from the wind and solar industries and other experts to deliver facts, data and personalized messages to decision makers about how renewable energy is helping to improve our economy and environment.
Wind and solar power comprised about 50% of all new US electric capacity additions in 2017, representing over $25 billion in new investment. Wind and solar powered roughly 8% of the total US electricity consumption in the last year. However, a recent estimate suggested that the two industries would need to combine to add an average of nearly 40 gigawatts of new capacity each year through 2050 for the US to uphold its international climate goals – more than twice the best year of deployment of wind and solar installations to date.