Power to the People! Renewable Energy in the U.S.A.

by John Brian Shannon – Originally posted at JBSNews.com

U.S. renewable energy has made impressive strides in recent years

“According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employs more people than coal, oil and gas combined.

Last year, solar power accounted for 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce, while fossil fuels combined employed 22 percent. The statistic will be welcomed with open arms by those trying to refute Donald Trump’s assertion that renewable energy projects are bad news for the U.S. economy.

Around 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report while generation through fossil fuels had a workforce of just over 187,000. The solar boom can be attributed to construction work associated with expanding generation capacity.

The report states that the employment gap is actually growing with net coal generation decreasing 53 percent over the last 10 years. During the same period of time, electricity generation through gas expanded 33 percent while solar went up by an impressive 5,000 percent.”Niall McCarthy | Statista


Renewable Energy | Solar power now employs more people in the U.S. than coal, oil and gas combined according to a new U.S. Department of Energy report.
U.S. employment by energy generation source in 2016. Find more statistics at Statista

Solar Power and Wind Power combine to provide 475,545 U.S. jobs — while Nuclear Power and Fossil Fuel Power generation combine to provide only 255,293 U.S. jobs — but in recent years the Fossil Fuel industry gets 4 times more subsidy than Renewable Energy


Renewable Energy = Clean Air and Twice as many Jobs on 1/4 the Subsidy!


Here is a look at historical U.S. federal subsidies paid from 1918 to 2009 for various energy producers.

Renewable Energy vs. Non-renewable energy subsidies in the U.S.A.
Cumulative U.S. Federal Energy Subsidies from 1918 – 2009 | What Would Jefferson Do?

What Do Americans Think About Fossil Fuel vs. Renewable Energy?


Solar power and wind power (alone!) employ almost twice as many Americans as all nuclear and all fossil fuel power plants combined, but renewable energy gets only one-quarter of the subsidies in from 2010 onward.

Which might be a factor in the minds of Americans who look forward to renewable energy meeting their future energy demand.

Renewable Energy | Fossil Fuels are Falling Out of Favor in the U.S.
Percentage of U.S. adults who favor/oppose expanding these energy sources. Find more statistics at Statista

Renewable Energy Continues to Grow in the U.S.


This renewable energy statistic represents the cumulative non-hydropower renewable capacity in the United States from 2008 to 2016, by technology.
Cumulative non-hydropower renewable capacity growth in the U.S. from 2008 to 2016. Find more statistics at Statista

Despite the low subsidy amounts paid to renewable energy in the United States, non-hydropower energy continues on its growth trajectory and it’s now cheaper to build new solar capacity, than to build new coal capacity.


New Solar Now Cheaper Than New Coal


Costs for new solar power plants continue to plummet (without subsidy) vs. new coal power plants (with a small subsidy) is reflected in the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) per Kilowatt Hour price.

“As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it’s used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over.”Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete — The Guardian


Billions of Gallons of Water Used Monthly by Conventional Energy


Renewable Energy vs. non-renewable energy by water consumption.
Renewable Energy vs. Non-renewable Energy by water consumption. Image courtesy of climaterealityproject.org

Many coal-fired power plants and several nuclear power plants produce well over 1000MW (1 GW) of electricity and it is easy to extrapolate their water usage.

For instance, a 1.6 GigaWatt(GW) coal-fired power plant (for the purposes of this discussion there’s a 1.6GW coal-fired power plant in Texas) uses 1,760,000 gallons of water per hour, while an equivalent-sized nuclear power plant uses 1,280,000 gallons of water per hour.

Meanwhile, a natural-gas-fired power plant producing the same 1.6GW of electricity would consume 480,000 gallons per hour, while a 1.6GW solar or wind power would consume zero gallons per hour.

Of course hydro-power does not consume any water during its decades of reliable power production, water merely falls through turbines and back into the river a bit further downstream — although during the construction of the dam, spillways, and hydro-electric turbine rooms, millions of gallons of water are used to make the concrete.


The Future of Energy in the United States


Renewable generation capacity expected to account for most 2016 capacity additions in the U.S.

The chart below shows just how much wind power in the United States has grown in recent years.

Renewable Energy | U.S. Wind Power Generation Capacity Surpasses Hydropower Capacity in 2016. Image courtesy of EIA
U.S. Wind Power Capacity Surpasses Hydropower Capacity in 2016. Image courtesy of EIA

The chart below shows the expected growth of solar photovoltaic power in the United States (does not include solar thermal)


Renewable Energy | U.S. Solar Power Installations Photovoltaic 2010 to 2020. Image courtesy of GreenTech Media and Solar Energy Industry Association.
U.S. Solar PV Power Installations 2010 to 2020. Image courtesy of GreenTech Media and Solar Energy Industry Association.

The chart below displays total utility-scale capacity additions from 2010 to 2016. For the third consecutive year, more than half of the capacity additions are renewable technologies, especially wind and solar.

A Majority of Energy Capacity Additions in 2016 Will Be Renewable Energy in the United States -- EIA
A Majority of U.S. Energy Capacity Additions in 2016 will be Renewables. — EIA

From 2013 through 2040, U.S. electricity demand is expected to grow approximately 1 trillion kiloWatt hours(kWh) with natural gas and renewable energy showing steady growth, while coal-fired power generation and nuclear power show slight declines according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Renewable Energy vs. Non-renewable energy demand. Image courtesy of the U.S. EIA
Renewable Energy vs. Non-renewable energy demand. Image courtesy of the U.S. EIA

If the United States converted their existing coal-fired power generation to natural gas by 2020, the U.S. could easily meet every international and domestic clean air target until 2050 as coal burns 10,000 times ‘dirtier’ (anthracite, or black coal) to 1,000,000 times ‘dirtier’ (lignite, or brown coal) when compared to natural gas.

Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal — Harvard Medicine

It goes without saying that if the United States replaced coal-fired power generation with renewable energy, it would surpass every U.S. international and domestic clean air target, lower U.S. heathcare and infrastructure spending by billions of dollars annually, save the U.S. billions of gallons of fresh water per month, provide millions of good-paying jobs for American workers — and prove the United States is still an exceptional power in the 21st-century. Not bad!

Power the World with 100 percent Renewable Energy

Excerpt reposted from: How to Save $23 Trillion Per Year: 100% Renewable Energy for the World

by Jeff Masters | January 02, 2017

Here’s a 2017 New Year’s resolution I’d like to see the nations of the world adopt: an immediate international effort to invest in a world where 100% of our electricity will be generated by wind, water, and solar power by 2050.

Such an effort is technically and economically feasible, and has been championed by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson since 2009.

His latest research on the subject was laid out in a series of talks last month in San Francisco at the annual meeting of The American Geophysical Union—the world’s largest conference on climate change.

100 percent Renewable energy - Wind turbines in Scotland produced 106% of Scotland's power over the holiday season 2016.
Jeff Masters proposes an international effort to power the entire world by 2050 with 100 percent renewable energy, via wind, water, and solar power exclusively. Over the 2016 holiday season, wind turbines in Scotland met 106 percent of Scotland’s electricity demand. Image courtesy The National.scot

During his talks, Dr. Jacobson outlined a plan to power 139 nations of the world for all purposes—including electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, industry, and agriculture/forestry/fishing—using a mix of approximately 37% wind, 58% solar, 4% hydropower, and 1% geothermal, wave, and tidal power.

His road map to a 100 percent renewable energy future uses existing generator technologies, along with existing electrical transportation, heating/cooling, and industrial devices and appliances.

He argued that his plan… [click here to read the full article]


Renewable Energy dena Start Up Energy Transition Award - Banner_Startup_Energy_700x116px

China to Invest $360 billion in Green Energy by 2020

China will invest $360 billion into renewable power projects by 2020 as the world’s largest consumer of energy starts to move away from coal.

China wind power
China wind power China to invest 2.5 trillion yuan in renewable power projects by 2020 as the world’s largest consumer of energy moves away from fossil fuel. Image courtesy of Newsweek.

The National Energy Administration (NEA) said Thursday that the investment would help create more than 13 million jobs in the industry, Reuters reported… Continue reading China to Invest $360 billion in Green Energy by 2020

European Union to cut energy use 30% by 2030

The Big Power Plan: European Union to cut energy use by 30%

The European Commission has unveiled its big power plan, aiming to slash energy use in the bloc 30 percent by 2030.

“Europe is on the brink of a clean energy revolution. And just as we did in Paris, we can only get this right if we work together. With these proposals, we have cleared the way for more competitive, cleaner energy in Europe.” — European Commission

Cutting waste, better integrating renewable energy and phasing out subsidies for coal-fired electricity generation are all part of the vision. But wind and solar energy producers will no longer have priority for selling to the… Continue reading European Union to cut energy use 30% by 2030

New Start-Up Award Created by German Energy Agency

by John Brian Shannon | October 31, 2016

Energy Start-Ups in Germany to Receive Leadership and Robust Assistance

Under the leadership of Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Sigmar Gabriel, Minister of Economic Affairs, a new and exciting organization has been created to assist startups in Germany’s energy and environment space.


With three separate, but interlocking components; (1) THE START UP ENERGY TRANSITION (2) THE PROJECT (3) THE START UP ENERGY TRANSITION AWARD this organization works to facilitate and empower persons, groups, organizations and companies to excel at their maximum potential in the energy sector of the German economy.

The FIRST GLOBAL START-UP AWARD for VISIONARIES and VANGUARDS fighting against climate change. It attracts innovative start-ups and supports them in making their visions become a key success factor for the worldwide energy transition. To support this, we will organize the

The START UP ENERGY TRANSITION TECH FESTIVAL to stimulate new business models by connecting the best of all interdisciplinary stakeholders. Start-ups from around the globe will work together with customers and investors to improve their products and to kick-off new ideas.

And we created the START UP ENERGY TRANSITION NETWORK to ensure a continuous exchange of the best ideas and talents among the participants and our partners and sponsors. We want this network to accelerate co-operations and drive innovation within the international debate on climate change.

The FIRST GLOBAL START-UP AWARD for VISIONARIES and VANGUARDS will officially launch on the 22nd and 23rd of November during the DENA congress with the first annual awards ceremony taking place in March 2017 in Berlin.

German Energy Agency Assists Energy Start-Ups

The German Energy Agency (DENA) is looking for start-ups interested in participating along with other organizations that want to be involved as sponsors, ambassadors, media and network partners.

For more information


Renewable Energy dena Start Up Energy Transition Award - Banner_Startup_Energy_700x116px


kleef&co are proud to serve as Network Partners to the German Energy Agency.