Clean Tech Taking Root In U.S. Markets

Solar Turbines in Farm Field

By Arman Kazemi

November 19, 2015

A price drop in clean energy technology in the U.S. has driven a surge in uptake since 2008. This advance is fuelled by both government support and private sector investment, according to a new report.

Revolution…Now is an annual U.S. Department of Energy report highlighting the year-to-year growth of American clean tech. This year’s recap, released last week, shows substantial increases in the adoption of wind energy, solar PV, electric vehicles and LED lighting systems through the end of 2014.

At the same time, costs have dropped across the clean energy sector.

Land-based wind turbines, according to the report, accounted for 31 per cent of all new generation capacity from 2008 to 2014, with power purchase agreement rates dropping from 7 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009 to 2.4 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2014.

As of 2014, there were more than 65,000 megawatts of utility-scale wind power in the U.S., or enough to power up to 16 million homes.

By the end of last year, there were also more than 8,000 megawatts of distributed solar PV installed and 9,700 megawatts of utility-scale solar, more than 99 per cent of which has been installed since 2008. In that time, the cost of utility-scale solar systems dropped by almost 60 per cent.

Electric vehicles and LED installations were also on the Department of Energy’s radar, with 78 million LED bulbs installed by the end of 2014, up six-fold since 2012. The DOE predicts electricity savings from smart lighting systems to grow to $26 million per year by 2030.

In addition, a 70-per cent drop in the price of electric vehicle batteries since 2008 has translated to over 300,000 electric cars sold in the U.S. through 2014, or the equivalent of removing almost 150,000 gasoline-powered cars from the road.

“We are experiencing a clean energy revolution in the United States,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a release, “and this report confirms it.

“Today, clean energy technologies are providing real-world solutions – not only to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, but they also drive a domestic, low-carbon economy with technologies that are increasingly cost-competitive with conventional technologies.”