Fact Sheet: Clean Energy Is Here And Ready To Grow
While some claim that clean energy is a technology of the future that simply isn’t prepared to take on massive federal investment, the reality couldn’t be more different. The nation’s clean energy industry is here and it’s only set to grow in the coming years and beyond.
Clean Energy Has Seen Significant Growth, Even Despite The COVID-19 Pandemic
The U.S. clean energy industry has seen significant growth over the past decade. From 2010 to 2020, solar saw an average annual growth rate of 42%, while the cost of solar installation fell by 70%. Over the same time frame, the U.S. more than tripled its wind power generation capacity, and the cost of wind energy dropped by 70%.
Despite the economic downturn and supply chain issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. clean energy economy has made impressive gains over the last two years. In 2020, wind was the largest renewable energy source in the U.S., with the industry breaking installation records and adding some 2,000 more jobs. According to U.S. Department of Energy data: “More wind energy was installed in 2020 than any other energy source, accounting for 42% of new U.S. capacity.” The U.S. solar industry similarly broke records for the number of utility PV power purchase agreements, solar PV capacity installations, and total solar GW capacity installations. In 2021, solar once again set records for installed capacity, as well as for residential and utility-scale solar installations.
The U.S. Has Enough Access To Clean Energy Sources To Meet Our Energy Needs
Renewable energy sources— the sun, wind, and geothermal energy— are inexhaustible. In fact, the U.S. has enough access to solar and wind power to power the nation’s energy needs many times over, with the Department of Energy estimating the U.S. can source 40% of its electricity via solar by 2035. Renewables can also strengthen the electric grid, preventing potential blackouts during periods of high usage or extreme weather.
The Clean Energy Sector Is Ready For Further Growth
The clean energy industry is poised for more growth in years to come. According to the International Energy Agency: “Renewables are set to account for almost 95% of the increase in global power capacity through 2026, with solar PV alone providing more than half.” This year, for the second year running, renewables represent the biggest sources of planned new electricity generating capacity, comprising almost two-thirds of all new capacity. Solar alone makes up almost half of all new capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The wind power market is expected to grow at a rate of around 7.9% from 2020 through 2025, while solar is expected to see 17.32% growth in the same time period. By 2032, U.S. solar capacity is projected to more than triple from 120 GW installed in 2021 to 464 GW. All of this growth in the clean energy industry means not only a reduction in emissions and lower utility costs, but the creation of millions of good jobs in the industry and beyond. For example, solar PV installer and wind turbine service technicians occupations rank among the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ top five fastest growing occupations from 2020 to 2030, seeing 52% and 68% growth, respectively.
Biden’s proposed investments in climate and clean energy provisions would spur significant growth in the industry. The clean energy tax credits proposed in Biden’s climate and economic agenda would create millions of jobs and lower household energy costs by $500 a year. Additionally, Biden’s budget allocates $3.3 billion to clean energy growth alone, including $90 million for a grid deployment office to modernize the nation’s electrical grid, $200 million for a new Solar Manufacturing Accelerator to drive U.S. manufacturing of solar panels, and $502 million to weatherize and retrofit homes. It would also direct $254 million toward renewable energy on public lands, including $50 million toward the Bureau of Land Management’s renewable energy program and increased funding to help support the approval of 16 offshore wind farms by the end of Biden’s first term.