Ahead of the International Energy Agency’s Ministerial in Paris, which serves as a lead-up to the COP21 UN Climate Negotiations, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the 2015 Revolution…Now report, which details the state of several clean energy technologies in the U.S. that provide technology solutions to climate change.
The updated report, which was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz during a discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, builds upon past Revolution…Now reports that showed a dramatic increase in deployment and a decrease in cost of four transformational technologies: wind turbines, solar technologies, electric vehicles (EVs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
“We are experiencing a clean energy revolution in the United States, and this report confirms it,” Secretary Moniz said. “Today, clean energy technologies are providing real-world solutions – not only to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, but they also drive a domestic, low-carbon economy with technologies that are increasingly cost-competitive with conventional technologies. We have the tools for a cleaner and more secure energy future.”
The 2015 update shows that dramatic cost reductions are continuing to drive the adoption of clean energy technologies. The report covers the rapid growth of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules for both large, utility-scale PV plants, and smaller, rooftop, distributed PV systems that have achieved significant deployment nationwide. DOE continues to invest in research and development for these technologies in addition to reducing market barriers in order to make these clean energy technologies even more cost-effective and widely available across the United States.
Between 2008 and 2014, land-based wind accounted for 31 percent of all new generation capacity installed in the U.S., in part due to early investments from DOE that helped drive the technology innovation that has enabled this growth. As of 2014, there were more than 65,000 megawatts of utility-scale wind power deployed across 39 states — enough to generate electricity for more than 16 million homes — with another 13,600 megawatts under construction in 2015.
By 2014, more than 8 gigawatts of distributed solar PV were installed, which is enough to power roughly 1 million American homes. Utility-scale solar PV grew by 68 percent in 2014 to 9.7 gigawatts total—more than 99 percent of which has been installed since 2008. The growth of the utility-scale PV market is in part due to significant support from DOE’s Loan Programs Office, which supported the first five projects over 100 MW. As of mid-2015 there were over 17 subsequent utility-scale projects over 100 MW that were financed solely by the private sector.
A total of 78 million LED bulbs have been installed through 2014—a six-fold increase since 2012. In 2014 alone, LED installations prevented 7.1 million metric tons of carbon emissions and saved Americans $1.4 billion in energy costs. Those savings are projected to grow to $26 billion per year in electricity costs by 2030, while cutting America’s lighting electricity use by nearly half.
The transportation sector makes up 27% percent of overall U.S. carbon emissions. An average EV reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 48 percent as compared to a gasoline-fueled car, and with nearly 300,000 EVs sold in the U.S. through 2014, that is equivalent to taking nearly 150,000 gasoline-powered cars off the road.
In addition to these four technologies, the 2015 Revolution…Now update introduces three technologies that are on the cusp of wider deployment and cost reduction in the coming years, including: smart building systems, fuel-efficient freight trucks, and vehicle lightweighting. With the continued progress of the core technologies in this report, and with DOE’s continued focus on R&D and innovation, the clean energy revolution will continue to transform the way our nation produces and uses energy well into the future.