A decade of progress positions America for a clean energy future

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American renewable energy forges ahead, despite obstruction from the federal government

Environment America Research & Policy Center

America’s states, local governments and institutions are ushering in a new era of clean energy, despite federal policies designed to prop up polluting and outdated fossil fuel industries.

The United States generates nearly six times more electricity from the sun and wind than it did in 2008, while using 8 percent less energy per capita than ten years ago due to improved efficiency, according to a new report by Environment America Research and Policy Center, and Frontier Group. Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future, also cites a 17-fold increase in battery storage of electricity, the steady rise in sales of electric vehicles (annual sales exceeded 100,000 for the first time in 2017), and significant improvements in energy efficiency as evidence that America is poised for a clean energy revolution.

“The Trump administration chose to abandon the Paris Accord and promote fossil fuel-friendly policies, but we can overcome those obstacles by harnessing clean energy’s potential,” said Rob Sargent, energy program director for Environment America Research and Policy Center. “Americans are forging ahead and adopting renewable energy in both the public and private sectors. With such strong allies at the state and local levels, we’re taking clean energy to the next level.”

The new report analyzes the growth of key technologies powering progress toward clean, renewable energy — including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles. The report also provides state-by-state rankings, along with a handy interactive map, detailing all of these categories.

“Over the last decade, key clean energy technologies have spread across the country and become core parts of our energy system,” said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. “In 2017, nine states produced at least 20 percent of their electricity with wind and solar power. Back in 2008, not a single state was even close.”

The report comes as a diverse group of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions commit to a vision of a future powered by renewable energy. In 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the country to pass legislation calling for a full-scale transition to renewable energy, and similar bills in both Massachusetts and California have cleared major hurdles this year. At the local level, 72 American cities, led by a mix of Republican and Democratic mayors, have committed to a transition to 100 percent renewable energy, up from 37 a year ago. In addition, 131 major companies, including Bank of America, Google and Anheuser-Busch have committed to power 100 percent of their operations with renewable energy.

“Future plans are important, but whether you’re a government, business, utility or homeowner, clean, renewable energy isn’t just the best option for the future — it’s the go-to option today, ” said Sargent. “Americans are seeing the opportunity to transition to clean energy, and we’re taking it.”