The US Natural Resources Defense Council claims that the country’s solar energy capacity increased by 4,500% between 2006 and 2016, while the country’s wind capacity increased by 350%.
The Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) fifth annual energy report, America’s Clean Energy Revolution, was published this week, confirming that the country shattered dozens of clean energy records over the last year and a half and proving that a massive shift is underway in America’s energy landscape from traditional fossil fuels and nuclear towards renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
“America’s clean energy revolution proves that we don’t have to choose between the environment and a booming economy,” said Amanda Levin, report co-author and NRDC clean energy advocate. “Clean energy not only cuts pollution, it’s also one of the fast-growing areas for U.S. jobs and contributes billions to our nation’s economy annually.
“When you look at how clean energy development has exploded beyond official government projections from just 10 years ago, it offers hope that its potential will continue to far surpass expectations and we’ll meet our U.S. climate goals.”
The new NRDC report also highlighted the inaccuracies made by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2006. Specifically, the EIA predicted that the country’s solar energy capacity would only increase by less than 1 GW (gigawatt) — a blindingly baffling prediction, not simply because the end result was actually 46-times the forecast figure. Further, the EIA predicted only 18 GW worth of wind would be installed, when in fact 82 GW was installed between 2006 and 2016.
The EIA also predicted that carbon dioxide pollution would be 25% higher than it was in 2016, while simultaneously misreading the level of energy efficiency measures, leading to energy consumption being 17% below the EIA’s projection.
Unsurprisingly, the EIA also failed to predict the decline of coal power in America, which dropped 45% compared the EIA’s predicted level.
“Dozens of clean energy records have been shattered across the United States in the last year and a half,” said co-author Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of NRDC’s energy program. “And despite some new political headwinds, ever-improving economics will propel the clean energy transition in the years to come.”
The United States economy grew by 17% between 2005 and 2016, but despite historical trends, the country’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by 14% while energy use remained flat. The average US household spent less than 4% of its income on all energy in 2016 — which includes both gasoline and electricity spending. Meanwhile, renewable energy grew to 14% of the total US electricity sales in 2016, with wind and solar accounting for 8% and hydropower and geothermal account for 6%.