SEIA establishes non-profit for solar and storage innovation, initial focus on land use concerns

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SEIA said the non-profit will initially focus on land use issues surrounding large-scale solar projects. Image: SEIA via Twitter.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has launched a non-profit to facilitate the energy transition through clean energy research and analysis.

The Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2) will act as SEIA’s charitable and educational arm, using research, public education initiatives and policymaker engagement to remove barriers to clean energy deployment, the trade body said.

One particular area of focus for SI2 will be addressing land use concerns. The siting of clean energy projects requires community acceptance and well-designed projects that consider the environment and local communities as well as access to transmission lines, upgrades to grid infrastructure and several other factors.

SI2’s first research project will look to establish best practices for solar companies looking to create large-scale solar projects and other resources that will help the industry navigate these challenges, SEIA said in a media release.  

“SI2 will propose and incubate new solutions that encourage the growth of the solar and storage industry,” said SEIA, adding that the organisation will also “tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the solar and storage industry”, which it saw as land use concerns, antiquated rate designs, workforce development, environmental justice and interconnection roadblocks.

The institute will “lean on [SEIA’s] staff and resources while the organisation establishes itself”, SEIA said. But, as the organisation grows and secures additional funding sources, “SI2 will build its team and announce additional priorities and initiatives.”

SEIA’s CEO Abigail Ross Hopper, who will also serve as the new chair of S12’s board of directors, said that while the technologies necessary to tackle the climate crisis largely exist already, several barriers remain to their widespread adoption.

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. He said the new non-profit was a “special opportunity” for the solar and storage industry to “harness its creativity and use innovative thinking”.

In addition to Gahl’s role as executive director and Hopper’s role as board chair, SOLV Energy CEO George Hershman is serving as SI2’s board secretary, while Nautilus Solar co-CEO Laura Stern is board treasurer.

“A brighter future powered by clean energy is possible, and the formation of SI2 will help establish a direct road map to more efficient solar and storage deployment for generations to come,” said Hershman.

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