2015 was a banner year for the environmental movement: 195 countries signed the monumental Paris climate agreement, President Obama nixed the Keystone XL pipeline, and the EPA began rolling out rules for the Clean Power Plan.
While all of these events are incredibly exciting, we are also thrilled by the news that seemed to be constantly pouring out of the renewable energy sector last year. Just to name a few highlights, companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Johnson and Johnson, and Coca Cola committed to 100% renewables, solar energy generation in the US tripled, a new home or business now switches to solar every 2 minutes, and renewable energy is becoming cheaper at a faster clip than anyone predicted.
It is clear that momentum and enthusiasm are building in the push to have 100% of U.S. electricity come from renewable energy.
Renewable energy as a concept has always been popular. It doesn’t pollute, the fuel is free, it will help us avoid the worst consequences of climate change, and it utilizes the newest and most advanced technology. Perhaps most importantly, renewable energy presents an opportunity and for the United States to lead the world into an environmentally responsible future.
Now, more than ever, it appears 100% renewable energy generation is within our grasp.
The numbers are piling up in our favor. In a report recently released by SNL energy, new energy capacity added in the United States in 2015 leaned heavily on clean sources.
Overall in the US, wind and solar made up 61% of new energy capacity in 2015.
On the other end of the spectrum, less than 1% of new capacity came from coal and oil. This is a very encouraging sign. It no longer makes sense from any perspective, whether it be economic or environmental, to continue to pursue dirty fossil fuels as a viable energy option.
Just last week, the Obama Administration echoed this sentiment by halting any new coal leasing on public lands until further studies are done on the impact of coal on our overall health and environment.
We know renewable energy is booming even while prices of fossil fuels remain at decade lows, as we posted previously. On the surface this seems counterintuitive. However, given that Congress recently extended the solar investment tax credit, the wind production tax credit, the offshore wind investment tax credit and federal regulations in the Clean Power Plan require that states decrease carbon emissions, the success of renewable energy is hardly surprising.
While we are encouraged by all of these recent developments in renewable energy, we have a long way to go. Having 61% of new energy capacity coming from renewables is certainly a good start, but we have a lot of work left in getting ALL energy to 100% renewables. We must continue to fight for policies that encourage clean energy investment, as well as fight back against fossil fuel interests that are trying to get in the way. We can do this; let’s keep moving full speed ahead.