New dashboard finds US wind, solar tripled over past decade

Media Contacts
Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America Research & Policy Center

BOSTON — In 2021, America produced three times as much renewable electricity from the sun and the wind as in 2012, according to a new online dashboard released on Thursday by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group.

Renewables on the Rise 2022 shows that seven states now produce enough electricity from wind, solar and geothermal energy to cover half of their electricity consumption. In 2016, five years earlier, not one state had achieved this level of renewable energy progress. 

The dashboard finds that ten states, accounting for 22% of United States’ electricity consumption in 2021, have committed to obtaining 100% of their electricity from clean sources over the next several decades and all 50 states are seeing meaningful clean energy growth.

“Renewables, like wind and solar, are poised to play a dominant role in America’s energy future,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “As clean energy sources produce more and more of our power, they set the stage for other technologies — like electric cars and heat pumps powered by renewable energy — to replace dirty and outdated ones. With renewables on the rise, we’re on our way to building a cleaner, healthier future.” 

The Renewables on the Rise 2022 dashboard details progress over the past decade in six areas that will be key to transitioning to a future powered entirely by clean and renewable resources: wind, solar, electric vehicles, electric-vehicle-charging ports, efficiency and battery storage.

“President Biden is working every day to make sure the federal government does all it can to help deploy clean energy, and state leadership is essential to make our clean energy goals a reality,” said Sonia Aggarwal,  Special Assistant to the President for Climate Policy, Innovation, and Deployment. “When states prioritize building clean energy, their residents see lower energy bills, a more resilient electric grid, and healthier communities, which inspires neighbors — and our whole nation — to pick up the pace.”  

Top line findings include:

  • America produced enough wind energy to power 35 million typical homes in 2021 – 2.7 times as much wind energy as in 2012.
  • America produced enough solar energy to power 15 million homes in 2021 – 15 times as much solar energy as in 2012.
  • America now has nearly 4.7 gigawatts of battery energy storage, 32 times as much as in 2012, helping to support the use of more renewable energy and keep the lights on during extreme weather and times of grid stress.
  • Energy efficiency improvements installed in 2020 will save almost 368 terawatt-hours of power over their lifetimes – enough to power 34 million homes for a year. Energy efficiency savings increased by about 50% between 2013 and 2020.
  • Americans bought almost 647,000 plug-in electric vehicles in 2021 – a nearly 13-fold increase from 2012. Meanwhile, the number of electric vehicle chargers nationwide exceeded 120,000 – a nearly 20-fold increase from 2012.

“Repowering America with clean energy is a 50-state project,” said Tony Dutzik, associate director and senior policy analyst for Frontier Group. “The Renewables on the Rise dashboard highlights the impressive achievements of long-time clean energy leaders, but also promising signs of growth in states all across the country.”

California, Texas and Florida saw the most solar power and battery storage growth from 2012 to 2021, while Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa topped the charts for wind power growth. Michigan, Illinois and Massachusetts were the states with the most improvement in savings from electric energy efficiency programs from 2013 to 2020. California, Florida and New York top the rankings for both electric vehicle sales in 2021 and the rise in public EV charging ports since 2012. 

Federal clean energy tax credits promise to turbocharge clean energy’s growth. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden this summer, offers consumers tax credits and discounts on more than a dozen types of energy-saving purchases, including new and used electric vehicles, rooftop solar, geothermal heating and cooling, upgrading electric panels, and heat pump HVAC systems, water heaters and clothes dryers. Some of the credits are in effect now, and many will take effect in 2023. 

Modeling by Energy Innovation found that the provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act will spur clean energy and reduce pollution from fossil fuels, preventing up to 4,500 premature deaths and up to 119,000 asthma attacks annually by 2030.

“The Inflation Reduction Act provides wraparound incentives that not only reduce the cost of clean energy technology, but also provide financing to retire uneconomic fossil plants and funding to build up the domestic manufacturing industry,” said Michelle Solomon, Policy Analyst at Energy Innovation. “With these policies working together, Energy Innovation finds that the power sector could decarbonize 72-85% by 2030. Now it’s up to the states and utilities to take advantage of these programs and maximize benefits to their communities.”

“The injection of federal tax credits for clean energy technologies promises to turbocharge clean energy’s growth in 2023,” said Neumann. “The keys to a future powered by 100% percent renewable energy are within reach. Now is the time for states to grab the wheel and build out renewable energy; modernize the grid; reduce and manage energy use; and repower our economy to take full advantage of clean energy’s benefits.”