A Big Ray of Hope from our Clean Energy President
Fortunately for clean energy enthusiasts who were not able to attend the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, President Obama’s talk is available on YouTube. Seeing is believing, and I wanted to get this groundbreaking discussion with our clean energy President down in writing.
His speech was full of statistics about the progress of wind and and solar energy, status of clean energy investments, and the industry’s contribution to jobs and our future. I learned a few facts that have been circulating in the news recently. I appreciated having all of these encouraging highlights condensed in a short video.
Here’s what I learned, starting with wind:
- America is one of the top producers with three times as much wind generated than in 2008.
- There are more than 500 wind manufacturers across the U.S. in 43 states, generating more than 50,000 jobs, powering electricity for 16 million homes.
- Iowa is now generating more than 30% of electricity from wind.
- Wind could supply as much as 35% of our electricity supplying renewable energy in all 50 states by 2050.
There’s even more progress in the solar arena:
- Last year was solar’s biggest year ever with prices dropping 10% and installations increasing by 30%.
- America is generating 20 times more solar power than in 2008.
- Every three minutes a home or business goes solar.
- Every three weeks we install as much solar capacity as there was in 2008.
- The world’s largest solar installation is in the U.S. with nine million solar panels, and enough electricity to power 100,000 homes.
- The federal government has approved 34 commercial-scale solar projects and transmission infrastructure while cutting the time it takes to approve solar projects by half.
- The solar industry now employs twice as many Americans than mining and coal.
According to Obama, federal support and investments for clean energy innovation has contributed to a sharp decrease in the cost of solar technologies.
“Now is not the time to pull back on these investments,” said Obama. “For decades, we’ve been told it doesn’t make sense to switch to renewable energy. Today that’s no longer true.”
He urged us to not just take his word for it, but look at the facts: Big businesses such as Google, Apple, Walmart, and Costco are stepping up and employing clean energy to cut costs. Google is now the largest renewable energy buyer in the world. Walmart has the most installed on-sight solar capacity of any company in the U.S.
American is now committed to generating 20% renewable energy by 2030. Obama stressed that to meet this goal, we need to triple our renewable energy capacity. Here are a few efforts currently underway:
- 15 more cities from Seattle to New York have committed to join the 19 other cities that have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in climate solutions.
- California has committed to generating 50% of electricity from renewable energy (while cutting carbon emissions from oil by 50%).
- Last month, the federal government passed a new initiative making it easier for businesses and low-income housing to install low-cost solar.
- Just today, new private and public commitments will add more solar capacity on more than 40 military bases.
- The Department of Energy just announced a new initiative to deploy innovative energy distributive energy resources like micro grids, rooftop solar with battery storage, and loan guarantees to support these projects.
Obama’s enthusiastic and authentic speech to the National Clean Energy Summit rejuvenated my hope for a future that moves away from the familiar and entrenched dirty energy industry on which we have become so dependent.
Obama warned that the fossil fuel interests are getting worried, and acting out of fear. We need to stay alert and prevent the industry’s massive lobbying efforts from rolling back renewable energy standards, or preventing new clean energy businesses from succeeding. This would not be progress, but a giant step backwards.
Whether you believe climate change is one of our most pressing issues, the clean energy President had a strong yet simple message for anyone interested in clean technology, saving money, creating jobs, and improving the lives of our children and grandchildren.
“This generation of Americans is hammering into place the high-tech foundations of a clean energy age,” said Obama.
The American energy revolution is happening fast. Clean energy is not just for the “green crowd anymore – it’s also for the green eyeshade crowd too,” said Obama. It’s not about republican versus democrat. It’s about saving money, and it’s about giving people the power to take control over their own energy, and loosening the grips of big polluters.
Please don’t just take my word for it. I recommend watching our clean energy President make history by doing everything in his power to support, invest, and pave the way for a brighter, cleaner future.
Author: Kathryn Thomsen
Founder of Hundredgivers, a nonprofit supporting and accelerating sustainability initiatives benefiting local and global communities. In addition to social entrepreneur, Kathryn is a consultant, researcher, writer, communicator and urban farmer. She collaborates with individuals, organizations, and businesses to evaluate and develop climate change, clean energy, and sustainability strategies and programs.