Happy Birthday America!
While we celebrate our Independence this weekend, let’s also celebrate some of the wins we’ve made in America and around the world in the past year in terms of renewable energy growth.
1. We’ve reached 1% of worldwide energy generation through solar power!
Ok, so 1% sounds pretty small, but nearly a quarter of that was installed just within the last year, and the prices on solar generation continue to fall, meaning that soon it will not only be the earth friendly way to get your electricity, but it will also be the wallet friendly way. This first 1% is hard won, requiring decades of work by scientists and engineers to bring the technology forward and the price down. China, Japan, and the U.S. are leading the way on solar power installation. You can read more about this achievement here.
2. Dirty, Old coal plants are retiring across the U.S.
In the past year, 7% of coal plants have been retired. These retired plants are the oldest of the currently existing coal plants and dirtiest methods we currently have of generating electricity, so shutting them down is a good step to reducing the dangerous particulates they exhaust – like mercury, from the air. The old coal plants are retiring for a couple reasons – they are too dirty to meet current regulations, and they are being priced out by the plummeting costs of producing electricity using renewables. You can read more about the shutting down of coal plants here.
3. We’re building battery capacity
One of the biggest challenges with the move to renewables such as wind and solar, is that the amount of energy that they generate fluctuates. On a windy day, wind turbines can be constantly generating electricity, but if the wind dies down – people will still want to use their computers, refrigerator, and air conditioning regardless. Same with solar power, the power generation fluctuates not only with day and night, but with cloud levels and season. A sunny day in Arizona can produce more energy collected by solar panels than all the people of Arizona can use in a day, but at night, that all goes away. So battery capacity is key for capturing and saving all that energy until it is needed. This means that projects like the Tesla Gigafactory will be key in meeting our energy storage needs. You can read more about the Tesla Gigafactory here.
So there you have it, while you are celebrating independence this weekend, go ahead and light a sparkler or two for these 3 energy wins to celebrate this year.
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