New Report: “American clean energy is growing at an incredible pace,” Can and Must Grow Even Faster

The other day, we posted about how coal’s future is bleak, while clean energy’s future is bright. Now, a new report by Frontier Group for Environment America, entitled “Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future,” has even more great news about U.S. clean energy. Here are a few highlights.

  • The U.S. today “produces 43 times more solar power than it did in 2007, enough to power more than 5 million average American homes.”
  • U.S. wind power generation has grown seven-fold since 2007 and now account for 5.5% of U.S. power generation.
  • The dramatic growth in U.S. solar and wind power supply has come during a period when, thanks largely to improved energy efficiency, the “average American uses 10 percent less energy than in 2007, and the nation’s energy consumption per unit of GDP has fallen by 14 percent.”
  • Other areas of cleantech, including electric vehicles and energy storage, are booming as well. Regarding the former, “[t]here were 157,000 electric vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2016, up from virtually none in 2007.” As to the latter, “[t]he United States saw a 20-fold increase in utilityscale battery storage from 2007 to 2016, with the greatest increase taking place in 2016.”
  • The growth in clean energy “is not concentrated in one part of the country,” but instead “is distributed across the United States, in states with different economic and demographic makeups.” For instance, solar power has grown the most in California, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Wind power grew very rapidly in the Great Plains states (the “Saudi Arabia of Wind”), of course, but also in states like California (+245% since 2007), New York (+473% since 2007) and Pennsylvania (+739% since 2007).
  • Between 2008 and 2015, cleantech prices plummeted: rooftop solar down 54%, utility-scale solar down 64%, wind power down 41%, battery storage down 73% and LED lightbulbs down 94%. These prices are expected to keep falling, as “[t]echnology advances are also making renewable energy technologies more efficient and effective.”
  • “America’s renewable energy resources are sufficient to power the nation several times over…the United States has the technical potential to meet its current electricity needs more than 100 times over with solar energy and more than 10 times over with wind energy.”
  • Clean energy is overwhelmingly popular: “Eight in 10 Americans support expanding wind power, and nine in 10 support expanding solar power – nearly double the support for any other type of energy.”
  • Despite all this good news, “fully replacing fossil fuels [by mid-century] will require additional commitment and action,” such as the “growing number of businesses, cities and states…adopting 100 percent renewable energy targets and goals.”