Clean renewable energy no longer a novelty

Clean Technica, August 2017

  • Today the US produces nearly 8 times as much renewable electricity from the sun and the wind as it had in 2007.
  • Energy use in the US has fallen by 3.6% since 2007, even though the population and economy have continued to grow.
  • 2016 was the biggest solar year in US history, with the country generating 43 times more solar power than in 2007.
  • Among the states with the biggest growth in wind energy, four produced at least 10 times as much wind energy in 2016 as they did in 2007: Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, and North Dakota.
  • Distributed solar energy, which includes panels installed on residential and commercial rooftops, grew 28 times, while utility-scale generation increased 60 times.
  • In March 2017 the US drew 10% of its overall energy from wind and solar — for the first time!
  • 8 out of 10 US citizens support more wind power.
  • 9 out of 10 US citizens want more solar.
  • Twice as many Americans are pushing for energy policy conservation over production.
  • While sunny states like Arizona and Nevada are in the Top 10 states for solar energy additions since 2007, several northeastern states such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York have provided strong policy support for solar energy, too.

People from different economic strata and demographics have combined to help clean energy measures gain momentum and acceptance. When public policies promote energy consumption reductions, the amount of energy wasted in inefficient buildings, cars, and equipment diminishes. People feel more positive about their living and working environments.

Here are some instances where policies and attitudes have combined to create clean renewable energy scenarios across the US:

  • As a result of federal fuel economy standards, in 2016 the average fuel economy was 25.6 miles per gallon, which amounted to a 24% gain since 2007.
  • After states increased their investments in efficiency, the electricity saved in the decade over the same usage in 2007 was enough to power 2.5 million homes.
  • The federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and multiple state energy efficiency policies have prompted residential and business adoption of efficient
    appliances and lighting, such as light emitting diode (LED) lighting.
  • Many states have established or revisited building codes over the last few years, so that reductions in building energy use are becoming prevalent. This is really important, as residential and commercial buildings account for 40% of US energy consumption.
  • Since 2011, nearly half of all EVs sold in the U.S. were in California.
  • Michigan, which had zero efficiency savings in 2007, was recognized as a “most-improved” state in ACEEE’s 2016 efficiency rankings.
  • Some states have enacted legislation that create positive clean renewable energy systems.  Rhode Island’s Comprehensive Energy Conservation, Efficiency, and Affordability Act of 2006 requires utilities to acquire all cost-effective energy efficiency. Rhode Island has also invested millions of dollars in revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is the northeast’s cap-and-trade program in energy efficiency. Included in the programs are efficient public-sector buildings, LED streetlights, and financial incentives for consumer efficiency.
  • A growing number of US cities, states, corporations, and institutions are considering commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. Currently, 37 cities have committed to that goal.
  • Nearly 100 major companies, including Apple, Walmart, and LEGO have made commitments to 100% renewable energy.
  • Hawaii is committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2045, and California and Massachusetts are currently considering similar legislation.
  • Not to be outdone by the states, bills to commit the nation to 100% renewable energy have been introduced in both houses of Congress.

clean renewable energy

Most Improved States for Electricity Efficiency

Conclusion

The US has the ability to address all its electricity, transportation, and industry energy needs with clean renewable energy if it continues to implement policies and programs with that goal in mind, according to the “Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future” report.

Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York, acknowledges that clean renewable energy has grown tremendously due to support from key technologies needed to power America with clean renewable energy. “Every day, we see more evidence that an economy powered by renewable energy is within our reach.” She says that the progress that’s been made in the last decade on renewable energy and technologies like battery storage and electric cars should give New Yorkers and others the confidence that we can take clean energy to the next level.

“The reality is inescapable: fossil fuels pollute our air, water and land, threatening our health and changing our climate even faster than scientists predicted,” said Leibowitz. “We need to seize the moment and lean into a future powered by clean, renewable energy.”