Our country’s clean energy revolution isn’t off in the distance—it’s happening right now.
The convergence of macro trends across the power, commercial, finance, and political sectors, as well as the arrival of rooftop solar power and electric vehicles to the mass market, indicate that we’ve reached the tipping point. While the video above lays out some of the most important details, the rest of this section builds on these concepts. There’s a lot going on in our transition to clean energy, so let’s dive in.
The Tipping Point
We’ve reached a tipping point in our transition to clean energy, fueled by social momentum and key milestones for clean energy technologies. To get a better summary of where we are now and where we need to go, we checked in with Katherine Hamilton, an expert in clean energy who has over 30 years of industry experience. Listen to Katherine’s take on the energy transition and the role that individuals can play.
Grid Parity & Economics
Wind and solar have reached grid parity1—the point at which the cost of these energy sources is equal to or less than that of conventional sources like fossil fuels—in markets all over the country.2 It’s a big indicator that we’ve reached the tipping point.
The latest report from the industry gold standard for energy cost analysis3 shows how wind and solar have become not only cost-competitive with fossil fuels, but beat them out in regions all over the country:
Levelized Cost of Energy4
Levelized cost: the unsubsidized cost range for each energy source in the U.S.
Worldwide, renewables are on track to be cheaper than 96% of coal plants by 2030.5 The economics make sense, there’s support on both sides of the aisle, and the industry is creating American jobs right and left. Georgetown, TX is just one example of a conservative community going green:
Fastest Growing Jobs in the U.S.
Top four job growth rates 6
Employment opportunities with renewables are expected to continue to skyrocket. The top two occupations with the highest percent change of employment between 2016 and 2026 are in the solar and wind industries, and their projected growth is more than double the other fastest growing occupations in the United States.7
Storage & A Clean Grid
Opponents to clean, renewable energy love to bring up that the sun is not always shining, and the wind doesn’t always blow. This argument leaves out a key, ready-to-deploy solution: battery storage. While maintaining a grid that relies on solar and wind does have unique challenges (more on this below), these challenges have solutions that are available today.
The duck curve is a graph of power production over the course of a day that demonstrates the timing imbalance between peak energy demand and renewable energy production.
Our electricity grid8 is a complex system where supply and demand must be equal at all times, and constant adjustments to the supply are needed to account for changes in demand. Battery storage is playing an important role in creating a more flexible and reliable grid system powered by clean energy.
The Duck Curve
Transportation has recently taken the top spot as our country’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.9 This is why electric vehicles play a critical role in the transition to clean energy . The good news is that EVs are here today, and they’re ready for the mass market. Every major automaker has invested billions into electrification with more and more models hitting the market. There’s a lot of misconception out there, however, and a number of myths that need to be dispelled. The videos below serve to clear up the confusion.
Electric Car Myths
There are a lot of myths surrounding electric cars and while some of them may stem from real concerns, many of them have the facts wrong.
NPR provides a quick and easy breakdown of the state of the electric vehicles market, lays out the implications for internal combustion engines, and outlines how that transition could take place.
Still chomping at the bit to learn more? You can find it here in the Deeper Dive section. Interested in how wind turbines and solar panels create electricity, or do you want to know the mechanics of electric vehicles? Dig into the videos below.