Since the U.S. Department of Energy released the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report last month, several reports have come out from industry trade groups, and, though they focus on different things, there’s one overarching conclusion. As the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook says, there’s a new normal in America, and that normal is advanced energy. AEE members are making it so, from energy efficiency and big data to making solar + storage available to everyone.
This is what the new normal looks like, according to this week’s headlines: From The New York Times, “Offshore Wind Moves Into Energy’s Mainstream.” Covering a new wind farm installation off the coast of Liverpool, England by AEE member DONG Energy, the Times reports that offshore wind, “once a fringe investment, with limited scope and reliant on government subsidies, is moving into the mainstream.” Turbines are bigger, wind farms are larger, and competition is high.
“For us competition is great,” said Benj Sykes, Britain country manager for DONG. “It drives innovation. It drives performance. It also drives cost.”
For its part, the American offshore wind industry is currently limited to a single installation, but more are on the way. The U.S. wind industry as a whole, however, is employing more than 100,000 Americans, according to the DOE. As reported in EnergyCentral and High Plains Public Radio, 25% of those employees are in the great state of Texas.
Solar isn’t exactly slacking off, either. As reported in Time Magazine’s article on a new report out from the Solar Foundation, more than 260,000 people now work in the solar industry, defined as people who spend at least half their time on solar-related work. That’s 25% growth since last year, with an expected 10% growth in 2017. The solar industry represented one out of every 50 new U.S. jobs in 2016.
Sales of electric vehicles also jumped 37% in 2016, according to Forbes. The U.S. EV market is becoming more diverse, with 30 different EV models available, including offerings from Tesla, Chevrolet, Nissan, and Ford. Global sales are on the rise as well, and show no signs of stopping. In Vox, David Roberts writes, “We’re probably underestimating how quickly electric vehicles will disrupt the oil market,” specifying that unpredictably fast growth happens pretty predictably. “History justifies optimism,” writes Roberts. He suspects that conservative estimates of EV growth may be experiencing the same issues that led to underestimated growth in the wind and solar market, which is to say, basing a prediction on a baseline scenario.
In California, AEE member Enphase has partnered with GRID Alternatives to install residential solar-plus-storage for low-income households in the Imperial Irrigation District (IID). According to Utility Dive, IID is the first muni to hit its 5% net metering cap, which means that new installations of rooftop solar will not be able to sell the solar they produce back to the grid at the retail price. This new partnership will allow 50 low-income households to get the full value of power generated by rooftop systems by storing excess generation, without need for net metering
Meanwhile, AEE member General Electric announced that the company secured more than 7 GW of onshore wind orders last year. The orders, which cover both the United States and international markets, represent 19% growth over 2015. The U.S. onshore wind market represents nearly 75% of the total orders for GE wind turbines in 2016.
“Developing a strong relationship with our global customers and anticipating their local needs helps us to maintain a leading industry position and meet the growing demand,” Jérôme Pécresse, President and CEO of GE Renewable Energy, said in a statement.
Finally, this week AEE member CLEAResult announced that the company had acquired Green Team Energy, an Atlanta-based demand side management software company. Green Team’s trademarked DSMTracker, which is a software-as-a-service product, will now be added to CLEAResult’s energy efficiency offerings.
“As our clients’ industry evolves, leading-edge technology applications for energy efficiency have taken on tremendous importance in terms of creating differentiated experiences and customer growth,” said Aziz Virani, CLEAResult CEO and member of AEE’s board of directors. “This technology investment will allow us to further increase the value we are able to create for our clients as the leading provider of energy efficiency programs, and reflects our continued commitment to bring innovative technologies and capabilities that will help our utility clients succeed.”
As Lisa Jacobson, president of Business Council on Sustainable Energy, said in a statement, “Energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy are benefiting American consumers, American businesses and American manufacturers. And that adds up to one conclusion: clean energy wins for America.”