Today, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy released their third annual “Sustainable Energy in America Factbook.” The Factbook is a collection of fun facts to know and tell, but it is also a powerful statement on the transformation now under way in how we produce, distribute, and use energy.
The facts themselves are compelling – and they say a lot about the growth and progress of advanced energy technologies and services. A few highlights:
- The U.S. economy is becoming more energy efficient: $163 billion in GDP per quadrillion Btu in 2014 vs. $106 billion in 1990, in real terms.
- 93 percent of new power capacity installed since 1990 has been natural gas, wind, solar, biomass, and other advanced energy sources.
- Wind is the lowest cost option for utilities in some regions, with new PPAs in the $20-$30/MWh range in the Midwest, Southwest, and Texas.
- Utility-scale solar plants in Texas and Utah have signed PPAs at $50-$55/MWh, while residential solar has achieved “socket parity” (nice term) with power from the grid in several states, thanks to incentives, third-party financing plans, and falling installed costs.
- Smart meters have been deployed to 37% of electricity customers nationwide, providing the infrastructure backbone for new ways to understand, manage, and control electricity use and spending.
- Sales of battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were up 25% in the first three quarters of 2014 compared to the year before.
At Advanced Energy Economy, we are seeing many of these trends on an industry level: Wind energy has picked up after its setback in 2013, natural gas is providing cleaner electricity production, solar is taking off like a shot, efficiency and demand response are saving money and flattening load curves. As the BNEF/BCSE Factbook notes, investment is up – and so are sales.
Soon, we will see what these facts add up to in dollars and cents. In a few weeks, we will release our “Advanced Energy Now 2015 Market Report.” Last year, we found that advanced energy was a nearly $170 billion industry in the U.S. – as big by revenue as the airline industry. In terms of employment, studies commissioned by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute have shown that advanced energy companies employ over 430,000 people in California, more than 22,000 in Iowa – outdistancing the movie, radio, and TV industries in California, as well as crop production in Iowa. As our CEO Graham Richard points out, that’s just for starters.
So for now, study up on Factbook facts, and stay tuned for U.S. and global revenue totals and other key advanced energy trends, coming in March!
Brush up on the key revenue facts and trends from the Advanced Energy Now 2014 Market Report.