In 2005, coal was used to generate over 51% of the electricity in the United States. In 2018, utilities in the United States used natural gas (32.3%), coal (31.0%), petroleum (0.6%), nuclear energy (19.4%) and renewable energy (16.6%) to generate electricity across the country.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) projects that renewable energy will generate over 27% of the electricity in the United States by 2030. The growth in renewable energy is being driven by economics, power from onshore wind, solar and hydropower is now cheaper than any form of fossil fuel.
Although renewable energy may be cheaper than fossil fuels, utilities are hesitant to close down relatively new power plants. Accelerating the move from fossil fuel could be achieved with extending the tax credits on renewable energy. The tax credits will very beneficial in the development of new offshore wind farms.
IRENA’s forecast doesn’t include the positive impacts in new technology. Hybrid wind plus solar projects are showing great potential to further reduce operating costs by up to 16%, which will mean lower electricity prices for consumers. Floating solar arrays are also showing great promise. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently released a report showing if solar arrays were placed on all the 24,000 man-made reservoirs in the United States, it would generate 10% of the total electricity in the country.
In summary, the United States has begun the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. In my opinion, accelerating the growth of renewable energy can be achieved with federal and state tax credits and good old American ingenuity.
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