U.S. Reaches Clean Energy Milestone

By Vicky Harris, Vice President Marketing on June 20, 2017
Vicky Harris
Home  / Blog  /  U.S. Reaches Clean Energy Milestone

From City Utilities to Data Centers, Clean Energy’s Unstoppable Wave

March set a new record in sustainable energy in the U.S. According to National Geographic, “For the first time, wind and solar accounted for 10 percent of all electricity generation, with wind comprising 8 percent and solar coming in at 2 percent…setting a new renewable energy milestone in March.” These statistics are based on a recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that includes, among other data, the fact that Texas led the way, generating more wind and solar power than any other state.

Renewables: The now common generators of energy for your city.

Oil-rich Texas now leads the way in renewables for two simple reasons. First, the state’s geographic location gives it plenty of sun while the lack of mountains provides for abundant wind. In fact, Texas ranks first in the U.S. with more than 20,000 wind turbines installed. The second reason is even more impactful because no matter what a location’s geographic conditions for renewables may be, a market for it must exist. In Texas, as in places across the U.S., demand for renewables has soared because it simply makes good economic sense.

The Ever-Growing Demand for Renewables

A month ago, NPR reported that Georgetown, Texas Mayor Dale Ross said the decision to become one of the first cities in the U.S. to move to 100% renewable energy “came down to a love of green energy and ‘green rectangles’—cash. First and foremost, it was a business decision.” This city’s shift to renewables is not a future plan; it is a present fact. Some of the same renewable power that Georgetown, Texas generates also goes to support neighboring states, such as Oklahoma, where demand for renewable energy from utilities is on the rise.

Last week, there was also news from the opposite side of the world. On June 11, the Japan for Sustainability Journal reported that the city of Kamisu has “Developed a strategy to promote use of hydrogen energy, a much-anticipated alternative source of clean energy.” This city is implementing their hydrogen strategy in a phased approach that will conclude by the end of the next decade. The city cited three reasons why their move to hydrogen makes economic sense: high hydrogen supply potential, potential for using hydrogen vehicles, and disaster prevention needs (by having an off-the-grid power supply).

Supply Follows Demand

These two cities, on opposite sides of the world, exemplify what we call the “unstoppable wave” of clean energy. Whether it is solar, wind, hydrogen or a mix of all, demand for clean energy is driven by economics that have gotten better as technological innovation advances and a critical mass of installed power grows. Whereas in the past, adding renewables to a city’s energy mix might have been a gesture to look “green,” today these decisions are driven by sheer market forces.

Cities and utilities are not alone in driving demand for clean energy. Last week we also saw news from Apple, one of the top five most valuable companies in the world, who issued a $1 billion green bond to get to 100% renewable energy. According to a popular Apple blog, “Two months ago Apple announced 96% of its worldwide energy now comes from renewable sources and also pledged to reach 100% by getting its supply chain to invest in renewable energy. Today Apple has announced it is issuing a $1 billion green bond to further its renewable initiatives.”

At the consumer level, demand for clean energy is also growing. For example, last month, Tesla starting taking orders for its SolarRoof, whose pricing was “cheap enough to catch fire.” Demand for hydrogen energy at the consumer level is also growing as hydrogen-powered cars from Toyota, Ford, Honda, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes continue to hit the market. (Check out the article we wrote on the hydrogen car a couple of weeks ago).

Technology Innovation Makes Clean Energy Good for Your Pocket and the Planet

When announcing their $1 billion green bond last week, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, indicated, “Earth’s resources won’t last forever. And technology must be safe for people to make and use. We don’t question these realities — we challenge ourselves to ask what we can do about them in every part of our business.” While a company as rich as Apple and a city as close to wind and solar power as Georgetown, Texas, can afford to go 100% clean, other cities are following a similar path by starting with a smart mix of renewable and traditional energy sources and rapidly growing their share of renewable energy.

Innovation in all areas of energy will continue to drive the move to a cleaner society by making renewables, which now stand at 10% of all electricity generated in the U.S., ever more affordable and available. Whether it comes in the form of more efficient solar tiles that also look good, like Tesla’s SolarRoof, or wind turbines with maximum efficiency, like the ones in Texas, or affordable hydrogen manufactured 24/7 on-site and on-demand, like Hydrogen 2.0, clean energy is a wave that cannot be stopped. Market forces are driving demand for it globally.


Photo courtesy of Christopher Michel.
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