New report shows Illinois leadership in decade of U.S. renewable energy progress

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Environment Illinois Research and Policy Center

Illinois ranks 2nd in the nation for growth in battery storage since 2010, according to a new report released today by Environment Illinois Research & Policy Center. The project, Renewables on the Rise 2020, documents and compares the growth of five key clean energy technologies in each state over the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. Illinois now has 132.7 MW of utility-scale battery storage capacity, second only to California. Illinois also ranked in the top 10 in regards to wind energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.

“Illinois’s work in battery storage and energy efficiency is proof positive that we are in the midst of clean energy’s ascent as the power of the twenty-first century,” said Paloma Paez-Coombe, Campaign Associate with Environment Illinois Research & Policy Center. “The gains we’ve seen, especially in battery storage, wind energy, and energy efficiency should give Illinoisans the confidence we need to aim even higher and continue picking up the pace.”

Beyond ranking second for battery storage capacity, Illinois has also seen a 120% percent increase in energy saved as a result of energy efficient products, and a 322% increase in wind energy generated since 2010. That places Illinois 4th and 5th in the nation for those categories, respectively. Innovative policies, combined with technological advances and declining costs have played a key role in driving adoption, according to the report.

“The U.S. has seen tremendous growth of renewable resources in the past 10 years, and we are at the cusp of a paradigm shift in which utilities and customers prioritize a clean grid over a conventional grid,” said Sean Brady, Senior Counsel and Regional Policy Manager for Clean Grid Alliance.

However, not all renewables are in good shape in Illinois. “Illinois’ solar and renewable programs have run through their funding, leaving the state lagging behind its neighbors on solar deployment. As it currently stands, these programs are on track to be depleted by year’s end,” said Environmental Law & Policy Center Senior Policy Associate MeLena Hessel. “As today’s report shows, Illinois has proven itself a leader on energy efficiency, on battery storage and on wind energy – but not on solar. We can do this. We can grow the economy, create jobs and lower Illinoisans’ power bills. But first Illinois must address our renewables funding gap and restart our solar programs.”

In addition to highlighting states that have made the most progress in adopting renewable energy technologies, the study also shows the rapid gains achieved overall nationally. In 2019, the U.S. produced 30 times more solar power and more than triple the amount of wind energy than it did in 2010. In addition to the growth in renewable energy, utility scale battery storage increased 20-fold since 2010, energy consumption per person declined thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and more than one million electric vehicles were sold in the U.S.

“This project offers a timely reminder that clean energy technologies have risen to the occasion, and are already delivering for millions of Americans and Illinoisans,” Paez-Coombe said. “We are so much closer to the clean, renewable energy future we need than we were ten years ago, and we should keep working to ensure that the next decade brings us even further.”