I moved to the United States in 2006.
At the time, renewable energy was just taking off in the UK. Here in the states, I didn’t see much evidence of large-scale (non-hydro) renewables outside of California. Fast forward to 2015, and there are several utility-scale solar plants within an hour or two’s drive of where I live—and some of them are pretty massive.
That isn’t just the case in North Carolina, either. As reported by Cleantechnica, data from the US Energy Administration show that energy output from utility-scale solar in June is up 3,100% compared to June 2005, reaching a cumulative total of 2,765 GWh.
Now, I’d love to take credit for this dramatic transformation of our energy landscape. After all, I moved here and renewable energy went nuts. (And coal plants started being phased out). But I guess, reluctantly, I have to admit that this story is bigger than just me.
Solar and wind are becoming cost competitive with fossil fuels much faster than almost anyone expected, and the utility landscape is shifting as a result. Add in the dramatic rise of grid-scale energy storage and demand response, not to mention the fall in costs for efficiency technologies like LEDs, and the dream of 100% renewable energy starts to feel decidedly possible.
It’s been an interesting and eye-opening decade or so. Here’s to several more to come.