Renewable sources supply 18% of U.S. energy

 In Energy

A recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, published in the 2018 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, shows how renewables energies now account for 18% of the energy supply in the U.S – literally doubling their contribution of a decade ago.

To put this into perspective, let’s just mention that nuclear energy currently accounts for about 20% of the total. This certainly gives us a clear insight of how the energy balance in the US is now slowly starting to shift towards renewables.

The report shows how energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower are growing strong in America and becoming more and more popular amongst consumers, improving the position of renewables energy from the 15% of 2017.

Looking at the specific figures, renewable sources generated 717 terawatt-hours of energy in 2017, 89 terawatt-hours more than last year.

The majority of this growth is generated by hydro sources, thanks to an improved situation in the Southwest where droughts have indeed been affecting this resource in the last few years.

Corporate and new jobs opportunities

The report shows how corporations are playing an important part in this process and how they are increasingly looking at cleaner energy opportunities.

More and more companies are pledging to source 100% of energy from renewables under the “RE100” initiative and, currently, 19% of corporate energy procurement in 2017 originate from green tariff programs

The renewable, energy efficiency, and natural gas sectors employed about 3 million Americans in 2016.

Energy efficiency, in particular, was the industry employing more people within the sustainable energy sectors however solar was the fastest in terms of job creation among all electricity generation technologies.

The solar job count reached nearly 374,000, doubling those from fossil generation, which got to 151,000 for coal, natural gas, and oil-fired sources combined (not counting employment associated with fuel supply).

EV and lithium-ion batteries

More interesting data from the report comes when we look at how sales of battery, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid vehicles increased considerably over the last year.

The main reasons for this increase were the release of new, longer-range models that could appeal customers, as well as lower prices due to the lower costs connected to the price of lithium-ion battery packs.

The figures tell us that U.S. sales of electric vehicles increased to over 194,000 units in 2017, up 23% from the year prior. This included battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV)

The report also shows how the price of lithium-ion battery packs, a key factor of BEV pricing, plummeted 23% in 2017. Pack costs decreased around 65% between 2013 and 2017, bringing average prices down to $209/kWh.

Looking at this more in detail, we can see how cells, which usually account for around 70% of the total cost of a pack, also saw a rapid cost decrease last year. Their cost dropped 26% more than the cost of other components, mainly because of increasing energy density, transitions to more efficient chemistries and, of course, economies of scale.

Renewables and Trump Administrations

This extremely encouraging data arrive after a difficult year for renewables in the US. Since the beginning of his administration, president Trump has shown an approach essentially opposing these form of energy and implementing a tariff on solar panels and cutting federal incentives and plans for clean energy programs.

Most of all, in a decision that surprised the whole international community, president Trump also decided to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement.

Luckily, this approach doesn’t seem to discourage the market and analysts predict that, if the current growth rates remain constant, in the next couple of years renewable energy could be the third-largest source of energy in the United States.

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