SEIA: 50 Years of Pioneering Solar Progress

SEIA works to promote, develop and implement the use of solar energy in the United States
Founded in 1974, the Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA) has been the voice of solar energy in the US for 50 years and is celebrating this in 2024

Since the creation of the first silicon solar cell 70 years ago, the solar industry has boomed into a renewable powerhouse that is pivotal to the success of the energy transition.

In the decades since its inception, leaders in the field have been innovating, improving efficiency, lowering costs and growing this technology, which is now an essential part of the energy system worldwide.

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The Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA) has been a pioneer of this technology through the majority of its cycle. Founded in 1974, this June the association is celebrating 50 years since its inception.

50 years of SEIA

SEIA is the national trade association for the US solar industry and since its founding in 1974 — off the back of the energy crisis — has worked to promote, develop and implement the use of solar energy in the United States.

So how did SEIA come about? A group of five industry members met at the Washington Hilton to create “a broad-based trade association supporting prompt, orderly, widespread and open growth of solar energy resources now” which prompted the start of five decades of five decades of solar energy advocacy.

Its history can be broken down into five distinct eras:

  • 1970s: Founded with the aim of promoting  solar energy and advocating for supportive policies
  • 1980s: Successfully lobbied for federal tax credits and other incentives which played a key role in helping to spur early solar adoption
  • 1990s: Expanded rapidly to continue supporting market growth through technological advancements and policy influence, leading to cost reductions and increased adoption of solar solutions
  • 2000s: Achieved a major policy victory by establishing the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in 2005, driving significant growth in solar installations
  • 2010s and 2020s: Continues advocacy for clean energy policies, focusing on grid modernisation and energy storage. It is now working toward new future-centric goals centring around significantly increasing solar capacity and supporting the clean energy transition.

What started as a fledgling organisation in the 1970s then boomed to become a leading advocate for solar energy, playing a crucial role in the industry's growth and the transition to renewable energy.

This is something that has grown to new heights in recent years. Solar is now one of the fastest-growing energy sources globally, with International Energy Agency (IEA) research finding annual additions of solar PV grew 85% as of March 2024 across the world.

Focusing just on the US, SEIA’s President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper says exponential solar growth is just the beginning of a far bigger picture.

Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of SEIA

“Over the next decade, the solar industry will add over US$565 billion to the economy and create over 200,000 well-paying careers across the country,” she told the Washington Times.

“It’s in our national interest to diversify our energy sources and reduce our reliance on other countries to power our lives. Whether it’s solar panels on a family’s home or a large-scale solar farm that keeps the lights on for communities, every American solar installation that comes online makes the US grid stronger, more reliable and more secure.”

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