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article imageClean energy momentum in U.S continues as wind power soars

By Karen Graham     Jan 10, 2017 in Technology
Clean energy's momentum continues into 2017 and beyond, and there is no stopping it, President Obama asserted in a thesis published in the journal Science on Monday.
Obama's premise was broadly stated: "Clean energy is good for the environment, helps businesses save money and, in the end, benefits everyone." And in his two terms in office, the U.S. has seen the price of renewables fall while the economy has grown. Clean energy now employs twice as many workers as its dirty equivalent, fossil fuels.
"The United States is showing that [greenhouse gas] mitigation need not conflict with economic growth. Rather, it can boost efficiency, productivity and innovation," Obama wrote, reports The Hill.
Wind  solar  and hydroelectricity are three emerging renewable sources of energy.
Wind, solar, and hydroelectricity are three emerging renewable sources of energy.
Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany (CC BY 2.0)
Leaning heavily on data and his own personal knowledge, Obama points out that many businesses are turning to clean energy without any prodding. "Businesses are coming to the conclusion that reducing emissions is not just good for the environment — it can also boost bottom lines, cut costs for consumers and deliver returns for shareholders."
President-elect Trump will be hard-pressed to bring about a resurgence in the use of fossil fuels in light of the growth of wind and solar power, as well as how inexpensive gas-powered power plants have become, reports Engadget. Let's take a look at the growth of wind and solar power in the U.S.
The growth of wind energy in the U.S.
One of the fastest growing renewables in this country has to be wind power. In January 2016, 88,000 people were employed in the growing wind industry, an increase of 20 percent over the previous year. Wind power was also ranked as the leading source of new generating capacity last year, jumping ahead of solar and natural gas.
Wind power - This may be the future for Southeastern U.S.
Wind power - This may be the future for Southeastern U.S.
Avangrid Renewables
One of the things helping to fuel the growth of wind power in the U.S. is the innovative turbine technology being used today, a vast improvement over older technology. At the end of last year, according to National Geographic, global wind power capacity was more than 70,000 megawatts. In the United States, a single megawatt is enough electricity to power about 250 homes.
On January 6, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued its annual report projecting the future of energy in America. The report shows wind power capacity will double from 76 gigawatts (GW) today to 152 GW by the year 2023. This means that by 2023, wind energy will be supplying 12 percent of electricity by that time.
U.S. Department of Energy
The DOE projects that by including available federal tax credits, wind and solar energy units will be among the most competitive sources of new electricity generation in 2022. High or low natural gas prices could affect the cost of the generation that wind or solar displaces, and thus play a big role in determining the value of these resources to the electric grid.
Solar power's growth in the U.S.
Solar power is the energy we get from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical power. Solar energy is the most abundant and cheapest of the renewable energy sources we have. And with modern technology, we can harness the sun's energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use.
File photo of the solar panels.
File photo of the solar panels.
U.S. Department of Energy
The solar energy industry in the U.S. is booming, but it faces both challenges and opportunities. The industry is working to scale up the production of solar technologies and, in turn, drive down manufacturing and installation costs. As a matter of fact, the cost of installing solar has dropped over 60 percent in the last decade.
Since the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was passed in 2006, it has provided the industry with stability and growth, so much so that in the last ten years, solar energy has experienced a compound annual growth rate of more than 60 percent. Today, nearly 209,000 Americans work in 9,000 solar industry businesses across the country, double the number of workers in 2010.
Many businesses are turning to solar energy, including Wal-Mart, Target and Apple. The top 25 corporate solar users in America have installed nearly 1,100 MW of capacity at 2,000 different facilities across the country as of October 2016. An added bonus is the drop in commercial costs, with a huge 16 percent drop in 2016 alone.
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