U.S. Renewables After 8 Years Of Obama – Then And Now

Wind and solar energy in the USAImage : Energy Matters

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Secretary Ernest Moniz has detailed the Obama Administration’s efforts on renewables in an exit memo published last week.

Back in 2008, the USA had 1.2GW of solar and 25GW of wind energy capacity installed says Secretary Moniz. Today, that tally has reached 31GW of solar energy capacity and 75GW of wind power.

In 2008, there were no solar PV plants greater than 100MW capacity – now there are 50.

Secretary Moniz says not only have the Department of Energy’s innovations and investments helped accelerate clean technology developments, they’ve also helped push down costs.

Since 2008 and to the end of 2015, the cost of on-shore wind energy fell by 41%, the cost of rooftop solar dropped 54% and utility scale solar costs decreased by 64%.

Renewable energy cost reductions

Image : U.S. Department Of Energy

There are now more than one million rooftops with solar panels installed in the USA and utility scale solar generates enough electricity to power more than 2 million homes.

Low-carbon electricity has also provided a jobs boom, with 600,000 people in the United States employed in the low carbon electricity generation sector.

Additionally, 1.9 million Americans are employed in energy efficiency.

“I have been especially privileged to lead the Department of Energy during the Obama Administration, because the President placed a very high priority on clean energy and climate change, science and
innovation, and nuclear security,” says Secretary Moniz (PDF).

“I expect that the next and future Administrations and Congresses will sustain its success in addressing science, energy, security and environmental opportunities for generations of Americans.”

Secretary Moniz says in order for the USA to maintain an edge in clean energy innovation, a doubling of federal funding from the FY 2016 baseline for related research and development over the next five years is required.

In related news, an article by President Barack Obama has been published in the journal Science, discussing the four reasons he believes the trend toward clean energy is irreversible.

The piece also urges President-elect Donald Trump to take advantage of the latest science and economics information for combating climate change and transitioning to a clean-energy economy.