A new report has found that the United States now sources almost one-fifth of all its power from renewable energy.
This figure has doubled in a decade with wind, solar and hydropower leading the charge. The findings come from the sixth edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.
All renewable generation increased by 14 percent in 2017, thanks to increased amounts of available hydropower on the West Coast and very high levels of new build solar and wind farms. 23 gigawatts of added capacity from these technologies had their first full year of generation in 2017.
At the same time, traditional fossil fuel generation declined over the past year with natural gas down 8.1 per cent and coal 3 per cent. This progress has meant that carbon emissions in the power sector have fallen by 4.2 per cent year-on-year, which are the lowest level in 27 years, according to the Factbook.
The economic benefits of renewable energy have also become more apparent in the latest analysis. The low-cost of power means consumers have contributed a tiny 1.3 percent of spending towards electricity. In addition, the solar and wind sectors created 98,650 new jobs between 2015 and 2016, and in total now employ an estimated 475,000 people.
Jobs in the energy efficiency sector are also booming with a huge 2.2 million people involved in ensure homes and businesses are properly insulated.
“The performance is proof that clean energy delivers for the American economy,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.
“The 2018 Factbook demonstrates that energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy are generating jobs and cleaner air while reducing energy use and boosting the productivity of the American economy. The focus of national energy policy in 2018 and beyond should be to further enhance and promote the continued growth of these clean energy sectors.”
The report also shines a light on the growing role of electric vehicles (EVs) in the US. Sales of the cars, including hybrids and battery versions, jumped by 23 per cent on the previous year, reaching 194,000. This helped the price of lithium-ion batteries plummet by the same amount.
“Sustainable energy deployment soared to record levels in 2017, cementing its role as a key contributor to U.S. energy,” says Rachel Luo, the lead BNEF author of the report. “At 18% of the power mix, renewable energy resources including hydropower are making nearly as large a contribution to U.S. electricity generation as the country’s nuclear fleet. Meanwhile, the falling price of newer technologies such as lithium-ion batteries is fueling the transformation of both the transportation and power sectors.”