The Rise of Renewables

Sep 19, 2018

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KEY POINTS

  • Clean Energy Week is Sept. 24 - 28
  • Cost of solar, wind electricity steeply declines while generation increases
  • New tool estimates amounts of local solar, wind generation

 

Climate change-related topics pepper the news this month. The effects of Hurricane Florence prompted looks into the links between global warming and hurricanes. The EPA announced a proposed rollback on rules limiting the emission of methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas. And next week from September 24 - 28, events will take place across the country to mark National Clean Energy Week. Renewable energy, like solar, wind and hydropower, is central to discussions on clean energy. A report released last week during the Global Climate Action Summit cited a “double down on renewable energy targets” as the leading climate action strategy for states, cities and businesses to achieve a low-carbon future here in the United States.

“In just a decade or so, wind and sunshine could power most of the United States, and do so without raising electricity prices,” said Alexander MacDonald, director of Weather Program, Spire Global and former head of the American Meteorological Society.  

Demand for renewable energy has increased while the cost of renewable energy technology and implementation has dropped dramatically. In the past decade, the average cost per unit of electricity generated over the expected lifetime of a new utility-scale solar system fell 72 percent in the U.S. By price, onshore utility-scale wind installations are now the cheapest way to produce power in the world. As for generation, U.S. total solar production has increased tenfold since 2009, and total wind production has more than tripled.

“The cost of wind and solar energy continues to fall, while the benefits of cutting carbon emissions become ever clearer,” said Dan W. Reicher, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Google’s Director of Climate and Energy Initiatives. “Companies and cities across the U.S. are responding by increasing their use of renewables and, with further cost reductions coming, will drive even greater deployment in the near future.”

In addition to offering potential energy cost savings and helping put a brake on energy carbon pollution, renewables have shown to be a driver of new jobs.

On Wednesday, September 26th, Climate Central will launch a new online tool enabling TV meteorologists to provide their viewers with information on wind and solar electricity generation in that media market or region, based on yesterday’s actual weather and forecasts for today and tomorrow. “This tool provides individuals a clear, easy-to-understand snapshot of how much the weather is already contributing to  communities’ electricity needs,” said Dr. Eric Larson, a senior scientist with Climate Central and a senior research faculty member with the Energy Systems Analysis Group at Princeton University's Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.   

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