Renewable energy has taken a few hits over the past year, with the Trump Administration’s recent implementation of a tariff on solar panels, decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement, and funding cuts for several clean energy programs. But this barrage of bad news doesn’t seem to have slowed down the industry. A recent report finds that renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro are still growing, and now account for 18 percent of U.S. energy generation.
This result comes from an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which just published its 2018 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. The analysis details the amount of energy produced by different sources in the country and is a good look at how renewable energy industries are faring, particularly after a year under an openly hostile presidential administration.
According to the analysis, renewable energy now accounts for approximately 18 percent of U.S. energy sources, up from 15 percent last year. Most of this growth comes from hydro sources, which have been rebounding now that droughts in the Southwest have diminished. In total, renewable sources generated 717 terawatt-hours of energy in 2017, an increase of 89 terawatt-hours over last year.
To put these numbers in perspective, nuclear power currently generates 20 percent of all U.S. energy, which means renewable sources, when taken all together, are on the verge of eclipsing nuclear. If these current growth rates hold steady, that should happen this year or the next, at which point renewable energy would become the third-largest source of energy in the United States.
Another positive piece of news for renewable energy is that the price of lithium-ion batteries is falling. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are approximately 23 percent cheaper than they were a year ago, according to the Bloomberg report, and this lower cost means energy storage facilities are much cheaper to build. This, in turn, makes solar and wind projects more attractive because utilities can be less concerned about whether those projects will be generating energy at any given moment.
All together, this report indicates that the American renewable energy industry is continuing to flourish. Maybe there’s hope for the future of this planet after all.