Today, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released their fifth annual “Sustainable Energy in America Factbook.” What’s the big theme that emerges from the book this year? Advanced energy is now the new normal, adding gigawatts of new renewable energy generation capacity and improving energy productivity to meet the demands of a growing economy.
The 2017 Factbook is chockfull of facts and figures like these:
- Greater energy efficiency efforts are paying off. We’ve experienced a 10% improvement in energy productivity, meaning the U.S. economy is using 10% less energy to power each unit of growth.
- Utilities have devoted more toward efficiency every year, with $6.3 billion spent on such programs in 2015 (the latest year for which data is available), nearly triple the $2.2 billion spent in 2007.
- We set a new record for annual renewable energy capacity, adding a whopping 22 GW of renewable generating capacity, with more than half coming from solar energy.
- Renewables (including large hydro) and natural gas now meet half of our nation’s power demand, up from 38% in 2011.
- Energy is even more affordable with, a 3% drop in average retail electricity prices in real terms. In New York, Texas, and Florida, prices have fallen more than 10%.
Along with these facts, BCSE reported several trends reflecting what we are seeing here at AEE:
- While some federal policies to support clean energy hit stumbling blocks, state policies are spurring more growth: sweeping changes were seen in California, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, and New York.
- Corporations and other non-utility buyers signed 2.5 GW worth of long-term power contracts with wind and solar projects. While lower than 2015’s 3.7 GW, it remained well above 2014 levels. Also noteworthy are their public commitments to procure even more renewable energy.
- The U.S. remains one of the most competitive places for energy-intensive industries, with low natural gas and electricity prices helping to reduce costs for industrial customers. The Factbook notes that this country remains among the lowest-cost markets for electricity in the world for industrial customers, beating out other large countries such as China, India, Mexico, and Japan.
The Factbook is just one of the many sources showing advanced energy’s impact in this country. Last year, we reported on the more than 2.5 million U.S. jobs supported by advanced energy, and their continued growth. Look for more news about advanced energy jobs later this month. And early next month, we will be out with the 2017 edition of the annual Advanced Energy Now Market Report (2016 edition here) showing, in dollars and cents, just how much advanced energy is the new normal.