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Published on October 17th, 2013 | by Cynthia Shahan

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Cleantech Transition Is Happening, Costs Dropping Off An Icy Cliff

October 17th, 2013 by  


Legislature developments (or rather paralysis) this month are retching. So let’s talk positive in this post. The way American citizens think about energy is in historical transition. We are finally “getting it.” Sane, renewable, commonsense measures to energy are not beyond our grasp anymore. The “maybe in 5 years” complacency stifling progress is over. The status quo subsidies of dirty oil and coal as well as the record of destructive energy extraction are all still with us. Nevertheless, US clean energy is unquestionably growing.

Simple and to the point, the Department of Energy’s Secretary, Dr. Moniz, tells it like it is: “In recent years, costs for numerous critical clean energy technologies — wind power, solar panels, super energy-efficient LED lights and electric vehicles — have fallen significantly. The accompanying surge in deployment has been truly spectacular. Such a surge is tantamount to topping the barricades — a level of cost reduction and market penetration that will enable a full scale revolution in the relatively near term.” That should all sound familiar to regular CleanTechnica readers, as should the following, but it bears repeating.

Here’s more from Dr. Moniz:

A new Department of Energy report, “Revolution Now: the Future Arrives for Four Clean Energy Technologies” documents this transformation and what it means for America’s energy economy. The clean technology revolution is upon us. While these technologies still represent a small percentage of their respective markets, that share is expanding at a rapid pace and influencing markets. For instance:

  • In 2012, wind was America’s largest source of new electrical capacity, accounting for 43 percent of all new installations. Altogether the United States has deployed about 60 gigawatts of wind power — enough to power 15 million homes.

  • Since 2008, the price of solar panels has fallen by 75 percent, and solar installations have multiplied tenfold. Many major homebuilders are incorporating rooftop panels as a standard feature on new homes.

  • In that same five years, the cost of super-efficient LED lights has fallen more than 85 percent and sales have skyrocketed. In 2009, there were fewer than 400,000 LED lights installed in the U.S.; today, the number has grown 50-fold to almost 20 million.

  • During the first six months of 2013, America bought twice as many plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) as in the first half of 2012, and six times as many as in the first half of 2011. In fact, the market for plug-in electric vehicles has grown much faster than the early market for hybrids. Today, EVs ranging from the Chevy Volt to the Tesla Model S also boast some of the highest consumer satisfaction ratings in America. And prices are falling and export markets are opening up. Since 2008, the cost of electric vehicle batteries — which really drive the economics of EVs — has dropped by 50 percent.

This report is comprehensive, confirming America’s clear cleantech transformation. Pages of graphs and documents prove our fast-growing green status:

EnergyGov


Here are a bunch of additional resources and facts on these matters (links to articles with more information are included on all bullet-point items):

Wind Energy

Wind energy is the fastest growing source of power in the United States, creating jobs opportunities for thousands of Americans and boosting economic growth. In 2012, U.S. wind capacity topped 60 GW, enough energy to power more than 15 million homes.

Residential Solar

The U.S. is on the verge of a major shift to solar energy, putting a clean, renewable energy source within reach of the average American family. In 2012, rooftop solar panels cost about 1 percent of what they did 30 years ago, and deployment is skyrocketing.

Electric Vehicles

Before 2010, there was effectively no demand for electric vehicles. In 2012, Americans bought more than 50,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). And with battery costs falling more than 50 percent in the last four years, 2013 is set to be another banner year for PEVs. In the first half of 2013, Americans doubled the number of PEVs they purchased compared to the same period in 2012, and last month, PEV sales reached a new record high. More than 11,000 PEVs were sold in August 2013 — that’s a 29 percent improvement in sales over the previous monthly record.

LED Lighting

Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs, LED lighting generates more light than heat and lasts as much as 25 times longer. Once an expensive niche product, LED bulbs are becoming an affordable choice for Americans looking to reduce their electric bills. In 2012, about 49 million LEDs were installed in the U.S. — saving about $675 million in annual energy costs. Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon pollution.

It is helpful to wander around energy.gov. With so many pages and links, one finds that the government is operating quite positively in the energy arena. Jump into the President’s Climate Action Plan for an even broader overview. Explore and thoroughly enjoy the maps section. Among other maps is an interactive map that highlights the path of Solar Decathlon teams. Explore the map of your town on this site.

Self-education is available in various blogs, articles, reports, and videos regarding: Science, Education, InnovationBuilding and Design, Public Services, Science and Technology, and Current Projects — such as the Mars Rover.

One final recommendation I’ll provide from the pages of the DOE is this article: Fish-Friendly Turbine Making a Splash in Water Power. Cool stuff.

Energy.Gov 
 
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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)



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