In the annual NRDC Annual Energy Report, Accelerating into a Clean Energy Future, the nonprofit advocacy organization showed that the progress the US is making in moving to clean energy is undeniable and that it’s reaching a tipping point that won’t allow the country to see-saw back to coal-fired power.
“The nationwide momentum for pollution-free energy is undeniable and irresistible because clean energy now costs less than dirty energy,” Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the NRDC Energy Program and report co-author. “However, strong local, state and federal policies are necessary for the United States to remain competitive globally and ensure clean energy technology and employment surge to the highest possible levels here at home.”
The report found that coal-fired generation dropped to historic lows producing only one-third of the US’s electricity. At the same time, renewable energy generation reached record highs producing power from wind, solar and other renewable resources.
“The past year in energy saw a number of victories for the environment, highlighted by a global climate agreement and a carbon pollution reduction plan for the United States. A clean energy revolution is underway, decarbonizing the electric grid through carbon reduction targets, energy efficiency gains, and renewable energy additions,” said Kala Viswanthan, co-author.
One of the key findings in the new report is that 1 in 5 Americans now lives in a state with a 50 percent renewable energy target. That includes states like California and New York as well as Oregon, Vermont and Hawaii—which wants to go 100 percent renewable, actually. Moreover, cities are moving towards 100 percent renewable energy goals as well.
At the same time, use of coal is at an all-time low, according to the report. Likewise, in 2015 oil consumption fell 12 percent below its peak in 2005. The report found that the lower use of coal, the higher use of solar and wind, as well as energy efficiency gains, allowed the US to reach another milestone in 2015: “Carbon dioxide emissions from electric generation dropped below those of the entire transportation sector for half of the year,” the report found.
Primarily as a result of historically low coal use, energy efficiency gains, and soaring generation from solar and wind, 2015 marked a milestone in modern U.S. history: carbon dioxide emissions from electric generation dropped below those of the entire transportation sector for half of the year.Tweet