U.S. Solar Has Grown 39-Fold In Last Decade

From 2008 through 2017, there was a 39-fold growth in annual solar generation, representing an increase of 75,123 GWh, according to a new report from Environment America, “Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future.”

According to the report, the U.S. generates nearly six times more electricity from the sun and wind than it did in 2008 – while using 8% less energy per capita than 10 years ago due to improved efficiency.

In 2008, solar produced 0.05% of America’s electricity; however, by the end of 2017, solar generated more than 2%. On the wind power side, by the end of 2008, the U.S. produced 1.5% of its electricity from wind power, and in 2017, wind turbines produced 6.9% of the nation’s power.

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Source: Environment America

Furthermore, between 2008 and 2017, the U.S. added 666 MW of utility-scale battery energy storage for a total of 708 MW – representing a 17-fold increase, the report says. Notably, California saw the biggest jump in utility-scale battery storage capacity, which increased by 162 MW over the time period.

Meanwhile, U.S. energy consumption has dropped by 1.1% since 2008. Between 1950 and 2008, total energy use in the U.S. nearly tripled, but today, the nation uses less energy than it did in 2000, when the country had 44 million fewer people, according to Environment America.

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Source: Environment America

Looking at major solar states specifically, the report says solar grew 23-fold in California for annual generation in 2008-2017, representing an increase of 32,279 GWh, and Nevada’s solar industry grew 24-fold, representing an increase of 4,063 GWh.

Massachusetts saw a 247-fold growth with an increase of 2,544 GWh, while New York saw a 55-fold growth with an increase of 1,370 GWh. In New Jersey, the industry grew 26-fold with an increase of 2,727 GWh.

In the South, Georgia saw an increase of 2,363 GWh for a whopping 3,882-fold growth, North Carolina reached an 877-fold growth with an increase of 5,776 GWh and Florida grew 287-fold with an increase of 1,159 GWh.

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According to the report, if renewable energy generation grows by 14% per year – slightly more than two-thirds of the current rate of growth – wind and solar alone will produce enough electricity to meet all of our current electricity needs by 2035.

“The Trump administration chose to abandon the Paris Accord and promote fossil-fuel-friendly policies, but we can overcome those obstacles by harnessing clean energy’s potential,” says Rob Sargent, energy program director for Environment America Research and Policy Center. “Americans are forging ahead and adopting renewable energy in both the public and private sectors. With such strong allies at the state and local levels, we’re taking clean energy to the next level.”

“Over the last decade, key clean energy technologies have spread across the country and become core parts of our energy system,” adds Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, the report’s co-author. “In 2017, nine states produced at least 20 percent of their electricity with wind and solar power. Back in 2008, not a single state was even close.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

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