We are called Revolution-Green to identify with what I believe is a renewable energy revolution. This can embrace free and exotic energy technologies when and if they ever manifest in a practical form.
The following statistics suggest a strong foundation has been laid ready for what I believe will be an exponential increase after affordable storage solutions can be found for the grid and transport.
This revolution in energy sourcing is parallel with the development and uptake of electric cars and other electric transport solutions.
Record investment has created a “virtuous cycle” that is reshaping our energy economy: falling prices for wind and solar are driving more demand, which attracts more investment, which drives prices down further, which creates even more demand, and so on.
- Over the last seven years, wind power capacity more than tripled, and solar power capacity increased 30-fold.
- During that same period, the cost of wind power fell by 41%, utility solar installation prices fell by 64%, and consumer solar prices fell 54%. Industry experts predict those costs could drop another 35% by 2050.
- In 2015, wind and solar accounted for 66% of new capacity installed in the U.S. Industry experts estimate that wind power could meet 20% of America’s electricity needs by 2030 and 35% by 2050, while solar panels on homes and businesses could provide as much as 39% of America’s electricity needs, if deployed universally.
ARE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES DISTORTING THE MARKET?
Renewable energy is approaching cost parity with coal and gas – and could reach parity in most markets by 2020. When environmental costs are included, the difference shrinks further. Since World War II, the federal government has spent nearly $1 trillion on tax incentives, grants, loans, regulations, and R&D to ensure America’s energy security and offset the cost of that energy to consumers. Seventy percent of that support went to coal, gas, and oil.
This reflects new concerns over climate change, but it also is consistent with the U.S. government’s history of investing in promising, but risky, new energy technologies. Today’s tax incentives for wind and solar power resemble earlier investments in nuclear energy, deep water oil rigs, and clean coal.
In the United States, renewable energy investment increased 19 percent to $44.1 billion. However, the U.S. ranks third behind China and the EU. In fact, last year, China invested more than twice as much as the United States ($102.9 billion vs. $44.1 billion). The United States leads the world in R&D (based largely on our private sector), but it ranks third behind the EU and China in renewable energy R&D.
Of the 8.1 million renewable energy jobs that exist globally, 3.5 million are in China, compared to less than one million in the U.S. And China’s National Energy Administration projects that new investment from 2016 to 2020 will create 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector.
Solar panels are the mainstay of China’s clean energy sector. Five of the six largest solar module manufacturing firms globally are Chinese. Average solar panel costs in China have tumbled about 30% this year.