Solar Making Strides Toward a Sustainable Future

Headshot for Freedom Solar Power CEO, Bret Biggart, smiling in a white shirt and dark jacket.

Authored by Bret Biggart

While Earth Day is always a good time to take stock of what we’re doing to protect the planet, this year’s commemoration will be hard to top.

For Freedom Solar Power, Earth Day 2024 marked a milestone: we announced a landmark partnership with Stainless Structurals to build the Houston area’s biggest commercial solar installation. As a native Texan, let me say it’s very, very cool to be the biggest energy anything in Houston.

More than 4,000 solar panels are covering 118,000 square feet of roof space at the company’s Conroe facility. The project will save Stainless Structurals, a leading provider of stainless steel solutions, $4.8 million over 25 years, reducing the company’s energy usage by 78%. 

Everyone deserves to access these kinds of energy and cost-savings benefits.

Along those lines, Earth Day 2024 was historic for the nation and the world, because it saw the announcement of the landmark Solar for All grants. This game-changing federal initiative will disburse $7 billion for residential solar projects to more than 900,000 low-income and disadvantaged households across the country. 

That money is transformative. It’ll make energy more affordable, cleaner, and more equitable, and it will create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, help families save $8 billion in energy costs, produce cleaner air, and help fight climate change.

As U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, whom I appeared on a panel with last year, put it: “Sunlight is powering millions of homes across the nation, and we’re working hard to ensure Americans everywhere can benefit from this affordable clean energy resource.”

Solar for All demonstrates how more families can, should, and will live more powerfully through solar. The same way, our Stainless Structurals partnership shows how solar can help employers as well as homeowners stay free and safe from high bills and blackouts. They both provide yet more evidence of how solar will propel Texas’ economy and its energy leadership legacy.

The Stainless Structurals work is especially epic — not just because it’s, I say again, Houston’s biggest commercial solar installation, but also because it shows so clearly why people and businesses are going solar: 

  • Efficiency: Stainless Structurals came to us needing a thermal rooftop solution to lower the temperatures inside their manufacturing facility, which could reach 100 degrees in the summer. Solar panels will singlehandedly reduce the facility’s temperature by 38%, improve comfort, and protect materials. 
  • Sustainability: Mattia Del Giacco, the company’s CEO, emphasized that having a 100% carbon-free energy source is vitally important to his company. Stainless Structurals has been committed to achieving greater sustainability — this installation furthers that initiative. 
  • Environmental Impact: The installation will avoid about 93 million pounds of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. That’s equivalent to removing more than 10,000 vehicles from the road for a year, preserving 271 acres of forests, or not burning nearly 46.5 million pounds of coal.
  • Affordability: Solar obviously creates huge energy bill savings — tax incentives make it even more affordable. Companies and homeowners can take advantage of programs like the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that covered a big percentage of the Stainless Structurals project.

That’s what Stainless Structurals will get out of solar power; I’m beyond optimistic that our industry’s growing economies of scale will deliver those tangible benefits to more and more consumers. Solar for All will catalyze that transformative growth and make it more equitable — empowering more people with freedom, safety, and a sustainable energy future.

So, yes, I will remember Earth Day 2024 for a very long time. I think we all will.