Late last year, the U.S. Department of Energy released its annual update on the nation’s progress on clean energy initiatives. The report states, “As the federal government and industry made long-term investments to support those (clean energy) technologies, some critics became impatient, claiming a clean energy future would ‘always be five years away.’ Today, the clean energy future has arrived.”
The report, titled “Revolution Now”, might seem hyperbolic at first glance. But based on the results, and the immense potential now being realized through green initiatives, it is safe to say the nation is indeed undergoing a rapid and fruitful transformation.
What’s driving the clean energy revolution? Here’s a closer look at five of the biggest factors making an impact today.
Low-cost, high yield wind power: According to the Department of Energy, land-based wind power accounted for 31 percent of all the new generation capacity created in the United States between 2008 and 2014. Wind farms have entered the mainstream thanks to improved technological capabilities that have lowered the price from 60 cents per kWh to less than ten cents per kWh over the last three decades. Performance has improved nearly 700 percent in the last decade thanks to taller turbines and longer blades that can take advantage of stronger wind speeds higher off the ground.
Rapid deployment of solar cells: Solar has become a significant energy source for the country in recent years thanks to advances that have led to smaller, less expensive and more efficient solar cells. The Department of Energy also cited tax incentives and private investments as a critical element to widespread adoption. The total cost of utility-scale systems dropped by 59 percent from 2008 and is quickly reaching parity with traditional electricity generation from natural gas and coal in some parts of the country.
LED lighting costs plummet: LED lights consume a fraction of the energy of traditional incandescent light bulbs and have a vastly improved lifespan. LED bulbs have been on the market for years now, but the pace of adoption is now picking up thanks to a tremendous reduction in cost—LED lights now cost 10 percent of what they did just several years ago. While nobody doubts the benefits of LED bulbs, for many consumers they were simply too expensive to afford until now.
The Internet of Things streamlines consumption: This year, we can expect 5.5 million new devices being connected to the Internet every day according to Gartner Research. Many of these devices are being used to monitor and streamline energy consumption. From industrial facilities with smart lighting systems, to nationwide efforts to overhaul our outdated energy grid, the deployment of connected devices not only streamlines energy consumption, but provides actionable data to make additional improvements. This creates a positive feedback loop to continue propelling energy efficiency initiatives forward.
With the cost of renewable energy at all-time lows, now is the time to take advantage. To see how you can bring the renewable energy revolution to your business, click here.