Clean Energy Is Here


Last week, we released Renewables on the Rise, which tracked the growth of five key clean energy technologies – solar, wind, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and energy storage – over the past decade. In case you missed it, here are some of the key findings.
  • America now produces 43 times more solar power than it did in 2007, enough to power more than 5 million average American homes.
  • America now produces seven times as much wind power as it did in 2007, enough to power 21 million homes.
  • The average American now uses 10 percent less energy than in 2007, and America as a whole uses 3.6 percent less energy than in 2007.
  • There were 157,000 electric vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2016, up from virtually none in 2007.
  • The United States saw a 20-fold increase in utility-scale battery storage from 2007 to 2016.

This unprecedented growth shows that our energy system is undergoing fundamental changes. There’s now enough wind and solar energy to power one in every five American homes. Our energy use, for the first time in decades, is falling – even as our population grows. Our transportation system is taking the first steps toward electrification, raising the possibility of a future in which the wind and sun can power our car trips. And thanks to the rise of advanced battery storage, it’s getting easier than ever to make wind and solar power accessible no matter the time of day.

In other words, wind, solar, and other clean energy technologies are now core components of our energy system – and as we show in the report, there is reason to think that growth will likely accelerate thanks to improving technology and falling prices.

With the effects of global warming becoming more prevalent each year, the sudden emergence of clean energy technology could not come at a better time. In order to prevent the worst impacts of global warming, the shift away from fossil fuels must be rapid, and must take place throughout our energy system, changing how we power everything from our homes to our commutes to our industry. The progress of the last decade provides tantalizing evidence that, with the right effort, this rapid shift is possible.

Photo credit: NREL