A clean energy revolution is taking place across America, underscored by the steady expansion of the U.S. renewable energy sector.
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The clean energy industry generates hundreds of billions in economic activity, and is expected to continue to grow rapidly in the coming years. There is tremendous economic opportunity for the countries that invent, manufacture and export clean energy technologies.
The consumption of biofuels, geothermal, solar, and wind energy in the United States nearly tripled from 2000 to 2019, mainly because of state and federal government requirements and incentives to use renewable energy. In 2019, renewable energy provided about 11.5 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) equal to 11.4% of total U.S. energy consumption. The electric power sector accounted for about 56% of total U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019, and about 17% of total U.S. electricity generation was from renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy can play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Using renewable energy can reduce the use of fossil fuels, which are the largest sources of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that U.S. renewable energy consumption will continue to increase through 2050.
Renewable energy provides a significant - and growing - number of jobs worldwide each year. The renewable energy sector, according to IRENA’s estimates, employed a record 10.3 million people worldwide in 2017, driven by rising investments. This, in turn, was the result of rapidly falling costs, technological improvements and government policies to support renewables.
Wind, solar and hydropower produce little or no air pollution. Other renewable energy technologies, such as biomass and geothermal, do emit air pollutants, but at much lower rates than most conventional fuels. Air pollution has become a critically important issue in many developing countries, where up to 2.9 billion people still rely on wood, coal and charcoal for cooking and heating homes. Cleaner options, including biomass and solar technologies, can play a role in this regard.
Some renewable energy technologies are deployed in a distributed, modular fashion, making them less prone to large-scale failure. This brings advantages during severe weather events or complex emergencies, as such technologies can be rolled out quickly wherever needed, getting electricity to people without complex and time-consuming infrastructure development.
Over one billion people lack access to electricity, while a further one billion have an unreliable supply. Improved reliability, rapidly falling technology costs and supportive policies have made stand-alone and mini-grid renewable electricity solutions viable for the 80% of those without access in rural areas or small developing island states. One of the most compelling arguments for off-grid solutions is that they are decentralized, and because project development activities occur locally, job creation is also localized.
Due to the fluctuating and intermittent nature of most renewable energy sources - no Sun at Night, varying wind levels for example - Hybrid Systems are a smart way to ensure a constant supply of power.