Clean energy is sweeping across America and is poised for further dramatic growth in the years ahead.
Wind turbines and solar panels were novelties 10 years ago; today, they are everyday parts of America’s energy landscape. Energy-saving LED light bulbs cost $40 apiece as recently as 2010; today, they cost a few dollars at the local hardware store. Electric cars and the use of batteries to store excess electricity on the grid seemed like far-off solutions just a few years ago; now, they are breaking through into the mass market.
Virtually every day, there are new developments that increase our ability to produce renewable energy, use energy more efficiently, and use clean energy technologies to meet a wider range of energy needs – bringing us closer to a future in which we can power our economy with clean, renewable energy.
America produces nearly six times as much renewable electricity from the sun and the wind as it did in 2008, and in March 2017, for the first time ever, wind and solar produced 10 percent of America’s electricity. At the same time, the average American uses nearly 8 percent less energy than a decade ago, due in great part to improvements in energy efficiency.
The last decade has proven that clean energy technology can power American homes, businesses and industry – and has left America poised to accelerate its shift away from fossil fuels. With renewable energy prices falling and new energy-saving technologies coming on line every day, America should work to obtain 100 percent of our energy from clean, renewable sources.
The last decade has seen explosive growth in the key technologies needed to power America with clean, renewable energy.
Figure ES-1. Clean Energy Technologies Have Seen Dramatic Growth since 2008
Clean energy leadership is not concentrated in one part of the country. Rather, it is distributed across the United States, in states with different economic and demographic makeups, driven in part by the adoption of strong public policies.
Rapid improvements in technology and plummeting prices for clean energy suggest that America has only begun to tap its vast clean energy potential.
A Department of Energy survey of clean energy prices found that, from 2008 to 2015, the cost of land-based wind power fell by 41 percent; distributed PV by 54 percent; utility-scale PV by 64 percent; batteries by 73 percent; and LED bulbs by 94 percent. Image: U.S. Department of Energy
The U.S. should work toward meeting all of its energy needs – for electricity, transportation and industry – with clean, renewable energy.
America has already made incredible progress toward getting its energy from clean, renewable sources. Policymakers at all levels should adopt policies aimed at repowering America with clean, renewable energy.