US Making Real Gains in Renewable Deployment

Last week, we documented the very real gains the US economy had made under President Obama. This week we look at the progress made in the important renewable energy sector.

At NDN, we’ve long argued that the goal of US energy policy should be to create a cheaper, more distributed and cleaner energy future for our companies and consumers. The President has pursued an “all of the above” energy strategy, which has increased domestic production of oil and gas, seen tremendous advances in renewable deployment, regulated pollution that harms the climate and environment, and improved efficiency to conserve more energy. This strategy has seen significant dividends already as America’s domestic oil and gas production is booming, global energy prices have plummeted, the deployment of renewables in the US has skyrocketed.

Let’s take a deeper dive into renewable energy:

• Solar installation has surged as prices have plummeted. In fact, annual solar installations have increased by ten-fold since President Obama took office in 2009.
• All the while, the price it costs to install the system has fallen by nearly 63% in the same time frame.


• The Solar Industry has grown from about 93,500 jobs in 2010 to over 174,000 in 2014 – an increase of about 86% overall. It grew at about twenty times greater than the overall economy in the past four years.


• Prior to the 2008, the Wind Energy Industry was small and was projected to have sluggish growth through 2030. In the late 2000’s, Wind power's deployment accelerated, reaching 50 GW in 2012—about 18 years ahead of the projected schedule. Installations of wind power capacity tripled from 2008 – 2012 almost tripled.
• Today, Wind powers about 18 million homes in the U.S. and is the largest form of renewable energy (besides hydropower) and an emerging industry.

Further Investments in Clean Energy
• The President’s first major bill (the “stimulus package”) included $90 billion to fund clean energy projects, such as battery programs, further research in alternative sources of energy, and tax credits. It also led to a further leveraging of $100 billion in private dollars to invest in clean energy. The program that led to investments in high-profile cases like Solyndra, could eventually result in over $5 billion dollar surplus to the federal government, on-top of creating a strong environment
• In the second term, the President pledged to have 20% of the federal government run off of renewable energy by 2020. The Administration has also made increasing renewable energy a goal under the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulations; renewable energy is one of the options offered under the Climate Action Plan for states to invest in as a way to reach carbon cutting goals. The U.S. Military is out in front, aiming to have 25% of its power come from renewable energy by 2025.

In total, the growth of renewable energy over the past six years is quite impressive. Renewable energy sources now power over 12.9% of electricity production in the United States—an increase of more than 50% since 2008. Solar and Wind are outperforming other types of renewable energy, growing each year by leaps and bounds. Clean energy is no longer a far-off pipedream, but an increasingly vibrant and real piece of the U.S. energy economy.

• Solar chart is from a recent article by Jonathan Chait, “History Will Be Very Kind” to President Obama.
• Wind chart is from the 2013 AWEA 4th Quarter Market Report.
• Michael Grunwald of Politico is a great resource for his work on reporting on the clean energy revolution, particularly his book the “New New Deal.”
•* includes hydropower