For many years, consumers, policymakers and utilities have been embroiled in the fight against global warming. According to recently published statistics, their efforts have dramatically redefined the energy landscape in the United States.
Earlier this month, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, released the eighth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. This year’s edition looks at energy patterns during the decade from 2010 to 2019.
According to the report, the energy sector has experienced dramatic change. At the top of the list, natural gas production boomed, climbing more than 50% from 2010 to 2019.
The surge in natural gas, and the price drop, also hastened a sharp decline in the use of coal, which dropped from 45% of U.S. demand in 2010 to 23% in 2019.
During that time, renewables also experienced a dramatic upswing. Generation increased by 77%, while generating capacity doubled.
The report defines renewables broadly. They include utility-scale hydro, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and waste-to-energy. The real stars, not surprisingly, have been wind and solar. According to the factbook, nearly all the new renewable generation came from new utility-scale wind and solar projects, along with rooftop solar systems.
The increase in generating capacity was equally impressive. Total installed wind has tripled to 108 gigawatts (GW). At 75 GW, there is currently 80 times more solar capacity online than at the beginning of the decade.
The report credits the trend initially to state-level mandates and federal tax credits. However, in the last several years, projects began winning power-delivery contracts on economic merits alone.
It also highlights the effects of energy efficiency in the United States. According to the report, energy use shrank from one year to the next in five out of the 10 years, even though the nation experienced economic growth in all 10 years.