The Department of Energy’s website throws out several key facts:
While these technologies still represent a small percentage of their respective markets, that share is expanding at a rapid pace and influencing markets. For instance:
Ken Bossong, who analyzes statistics here for REW routinely, noted on Thursday, November 21, 2013:
According to the latest 'Energy Infrastructure Update' report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Energy Projects, solar, biomass, and wind 'units' provided 694 MW of new electrical generating capacity last month or 99.3 percent of all new generation placed in-service (the balance of 5 MW was provided by oil.) Twelve new solar units accounted for 504 MW or 72.1 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in October 2013 followed by four biomass units (124 MW - 17.7 percent) and two wind units (66 MW - 9.4 percent).
For the first ten months of 2013, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) have accounted for nearly a third (32.8 percent) of all new electrical generating capacity. That is more than that provided thus far this year by coal (1,543 MW - 12.5 percent), oil (36 MW - 0.3 percent), and nuclear power (0 MW - 0.0 percent) combined. Solar alone comprises 20.5 percent of new generating capacity (2,528 MW) thus far this year - more than doubling its 2012 total (1,257 MW). However, natural gas has dominated 2013 thus far with 6,625 MW of new capacity (53.7 percent).
As for biofuels, we have created over one billion gallons of biodiesel for transportation fuels three years in a row. Beyond the 13 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol, we have newer biofuels from non-food feedstocks coming online, as well. For example, INEOS opened the nation’s first commercial-scale biorefinery in Vero Beach, Florida in November 2012, and began production of cellulosic ethanol and biopower in July 2013. Throughout the course of its construction, INEOS created nearly 400 jobs, sourced 90 percent of its equipment from U.S. manufacturers across 10 states, and provided more than $4 million annually in payroll to the local community. Two other commercial-scale biorefineries, POET-DSM and Abengoa, will complete construction and startup in 2014. Together, these three facilities will have a combined production capacity of more than 50 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year plus electricity generation. A fourth biorefinery project, Myriant, was constructed and started production of biobased succinic acid in its facility in Lake Providence, Louisiana.
For hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids and all electric cars, The Electric Drive Vehicle Association shows the growth curve starkly. In 2010 , there were 274,210 hybrids on U.S. roads, 326 plug-in electrics, and 19 all-electric “road worthy” vehicles. By 2012 we have over 495,000 hybrids, 96,702 plug ins, and over 30,000 all-electric vehicles.
Further in just four short years, solar went from 0.3 GW in 2008 to 3.2 GW in 2012 while wind went from 8.4 GW in 2008 to 13.2 GW in 2012. Hydropower supplies over 9 percent of U.S. energy and the tidal, wave, and ocean thermal/currents industries are also expanding significantly.
Energy Use Falls
The Institute for Electric Efficiency found that the U.S. saved enough electricity to power almost 10 million homes in 2010 (about 112 TWh) — 21 percent better than the previous year.
“Driven by government policies and the high price of energy, the world invested as much as $300 billion in energy efficiency in 2011, the most recent year for which the report provides information. That’s about the same amount funneled into renewable energy or fossil-fuel power generation,” according to the International Energy Agency inaugural report on the energy efficiency market.
The report highlighted Japan as one the world’s leaders of energy efficiency savings. The nation will save its consumers $3 billion in energy reductions, with more efficient lighting, vehicles and appliances all contributing to the lowered electricity demand, the report said.
The 2013 Energy Fact Book released jointly by Bloomberg Energy Finance and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy noted:
Total energy use fell 6.4 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to preliminary estimates, driven largely by advances in energy efficiency…Overall, U.S. energy efficiency expenditure reached $7 billion in 2011 (the latest available date for which data exists). Demand response capacity, which typically involves the curtailment of electricity consumption at times of peak usage, has grown by more than 250 percent between 2006 and 2011, allowing major power consumers such as manufacturers to cut their energy costs and utilities to scale back production from some of the costliest power plants. Some 46 million smart meters have been deployed in the U.S., while spending on smart grid roll-outs hit $4.3 billion in 2012, up from $1.3 billion in 2008.
None of these numbers — increasing private sector investment, increasing market share, and decreasing prices — indicate the investments in clean energy are losers. The opposite is true.
The nonsense from 60 Minutes comes right after their poor journalism on NSA spying. Sadly I am old enough to remember Walter Cronkite, Morley Safer, and David Brinkley who conducted substantive journalism. What we ended up with here is “News Lite” — just another symptom of the dumbing down of the American public in the 21st century. And if the writers for 60 Minutes submitted that script in one of my university classes, the would have received a D-. Happy New Year, all.
Lead image: 60 minutes via Shutterstock