(3BL Media/Justmeans) — When you’re climbing a big mountain, sometimes it’s good to turn around and see how far you’ve come, even if you still have a long way to go. Certainly, the transition to a clean energy economy is a huge mountain, but the folks at the Environment New York Research & Policy Center, have given us a breathtaking look back on what has been accomplished on this climb over the past ten years. At a time when so little is getting done in Washington, and what little movement there has been, has been in the wrong direction, it’s heartening to see how much has been accomplished, primarily as the result of efforts by other actors.
The group reports in Renewables on the Rise, that “Clean energy is sweeping across America, and is poised for further dramatic growth in the years ahead. “
Here are some highlights.
- America produced almost 8 times as much electricity from sun and wind as we did in 2007, and those two sources combined to produce 10% of the nation’s total for the first time this past March.
- At the same time, the country is using nearly 10% less energy per capita than a decade ago. Nearly all of that decline was in fossil fuels. [in 2007, fossil fuel consumption was 85.927 quads, compared to 2016 when it was 78.569].
- Breaking it down further, solar produced 43x more power than ten years ago, while wind produced 7x as much.
- Energy consumption fell 14% relative to GDP, which should put to rest the idea that more energy is needed to grow the economy.
- Electric vehicle sales surged in 2016 by 40% to 157,000 vehicles
- Utility scale energy storage grew twenty-fold between 2007-2016.
The report also breaks down the data along several dimensions including geography. Not only did no one region of the country dominate the renewable scene, neither did political affiliation. A number of traditional “Red states,” including Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and North Carolina played leading roles in the deployment of solar or wind technology.