Year in Review: 2017 Energy Trends and Facts
Today, we’ll take a look at some of the most significant trends and notable advancements in the energy sector.
- The expansion of renewable energy
- Continued growth of natural gas
- Decline of coal capacity
- State of carbon emissions
Growth of Renewable Energy
2017 proved to be a boon for renewable energy. With solar and wind growing the fastest.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “almost 15% of total electricity generation in 2016came from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric plants.”
Renewables bring lower costs, higher sustainability and little-to-no carbon emissions.
Solar alone has decreased in cost by nearly 75% since 2010, making it more attractive to businesses and consumers alike.
Wind energy is on a similar path, led by Iowa, which gets 36 percent of all power generation from wind. In fact, there were 100,000 employed in the U.S. wind energy sector in 2016, with 600,000 forecast by 2050.
Not to mention, wind turbine tech is the single fastest growing American job this decade, most notably in rural areas.
Natural Gas Rises, Coal Declines
Even as renewables skyrocket, natural gas still holds an important place in U.S. energy production and use. Just over 1/3rd, or 34 percent of the country’s energy comes from natural gas. Just a decade ago, coal was the energy dominator.
Since then, the country has cut about 17 percent of its total coal capacity, with another 4 percent moving to other energy sources. And it’s not unique to North America.
In fact, Italy vowed to completely remove coal from its slate of energy generation by 2025.
Meanwhile, industry watchdogs are keeping their eyes on the Trump administration, curious to see what will happen with all of the President’s policies, in particular the coal industry subsidies.
What’s Happening With Global Emissions
2016 was the first time Earth’s atmosphere had 400 parts per million of CO2, the highest our planet has had in the last three million years.
Renewable energy sources, in tandem with human vigilance around electricity waste, will play a big role in potentially turning these numbers around.
This is especially true in the United States. The U.S. is a major contributor to carbon and carbon dioxide emissions, along with China and the European Union, which together account for over 50 percent of total emissions.
And yet there’s room for optimism: many countries — the U.S. included — have put policies and incentives in place to reduce emissions.