More than 3 million Americans were directly employed by the clean energy industry in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The clean energy industry includes the energy efficiency, smart grid, and energy storage industries; electric power generation from renewables; renewable fuels production; and the electric, hybrid, and hydrogen-based vehicle industries. By contrast, the U.S. coal industry provided 160,119 jobs. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute has compiled energy job statistics in the U.S. and worldwide in the Jobs in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fact Sheet.
2016 Sets New Records for Solar Installation; Overall Clean Energy Investment Estimated at $287 Billion.
A record 70 gigawatts (GW) of solar were added last year globally, a 25% increase from 56 GW in 2015, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. More than 56 GW of wind was installed, down from 63 GW in 2015 but the second-highest figure ever,
Total investment in clean energy worldwide was estimated at $287.5 billion, an 18% decline from 2015 due in part to falling prices for wind and solar technologies. 2016 was, however, a record year for offshore wind investment which reached $30 billion, up 40% compared to 2015, due to improved economics.
Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance
The Central American country of Costa Rica has successfully transitioned to a grid powered by nearly 100% renewable resources, according to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). The primary sources of Costa Rica's power are hydro, goethermal, wind, biomass, and solar. Fossil fuels function as backup energy generation source, accounting for less than 2% of generation.
In 2016, Costa Rica relied on renewable sources for 98.12% of its electricity, an impressive achievement and consistent with the 2015 total of 98.99%. Costa Rica further reported that in 2016 it went 250 days using only renewable power sources. With the ability to maintain high levels of renewable electricity for two years, Costa Rica's electricity sector is a world leader in clean energy.
It should be noted, however, that Costa Rica's Reventazon Hydroelectric Project, the largest hydroelectric dam in Central America, has generated concerns due to its environmental impacts on river ecosystems and migrating wildlife, including jaguars. Accordingly, it is to be hoped that Costa Rica continues to invest in non-hydro sources of clean energy, such as wind and solar, which also offer the benefit of operating during the dry season, when hydroelectric production is less reliable.
The Institute is pleased to join the Local Clean Energy Alliance of the Bay Area. The Local Clean Energy Alliance is the Bay Area’s largest clean energy coalition, with 90 affiliated member organizations, working for a clean energy future in the Bay Area.
The Local Clean Energy Alliance (LCEA) supports the development of local energy resources as key to creating sustainable business, advancing social equity, and promoting community resilience. LCEA's long-term goal is for the Bay Area to meet 100% of its future energy needs with a balanced mix of renewable energy, improvements in efficiency, and conservation.
Additional goals are to:
· Reduce energy consumption.
· Maximize local renewable energy production.
· Offer stable rates for all.
· Create local business opportunities and green-collar jobs.
· Facilitate local businesses and residents' ability to sell excess energy to the grid.
· Ensure that the benefits of local clean energy accrue to all communities.
Latin America is a region of rapid growth for renewable energy. Growing demand, decreasing costs of renewable technologies, high electricity prices, energy security concerns and, in some cases, the potential for export, provide incentives for deployment of renewable energy technologies.
Three recent reports from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) provide overviews of policy developments and renewable energy deployment data.
Renewables in Latin America and the Caribbean: This publication provides a regional-level summary of renewable energy statistics as of the end of 2015, including renewable electricity generation capacity, capacity growth, renewable electricity generation, and renewable energy balance. For country-level statistics, see below Renewable Energy Statistics 2016: Latin America and the Caribbean.
Renewable Energy Statistics 2016: Latin America and the Caribbean: This report presents IRENA’s latest statistics for renewable power generation and capacity, as well as renewable energy balances for all countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
Renewable Energy in Latin America: An Overview of Policies 2015: This report provides an overview of renewable energy policy in the Latin American region, including policy support for renewables in the following countries: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. The report analyses policies in four sectors: electricity, heat, transport and energy access, as well as some cross-cutting and other enabling policies.
Renewable electricity generation in Latin America has increased by about one-third between 2000 and 2014, according to a new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Large hydroelectric projects still account for the vast majority of generation in the region, but their role has declined in recent years, offset by growth in electricity generation from other renewable sources, including solar, wind, bioenergy, and geothermal. Despite its enormous potential, solar energy remains an underdeveloped resource, accounting for only 1.4% of generation in 2014. However, solar is the fastest growing renewable resource. Production of solar energy has doubled every year since 2010.
In June 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto issued a joint leaders statement recognizing that our "highly integrated economies and energy systems afford a tremendous opportunity to harness growth in our continuing transition to a clean energy economy."
The North American leaders committed to a North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership that identifies deliverables to be achieved and activities to be pursued in the following categories:
- Advancing Clean and Secure Energy
- Driving Down Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
- Promoting Clean and Efficient Transportation
- Protecting Nature and Advancing Science
- Showing Global Leadership in Addressing Climate Change
Major goals include achieving 50% clean power generation in North America by 2025 as well as demand reduction through energy efficiency. Problematically, the statement includes nuclear as a source "clean power," which significantly reduces the potential positive impact of this initiative on the transition to clean renewable power in the region.
Read the full Action Plan here.
2015 set new records for clean energy investment, installation and jobs globally, according to the latest Renewables Global Status Report published by REN21. Highlights include:
The green workforce also set a new record, rising 5% worldwide in 2015 to 8.1 million. Employment in the U.S. solar business grew 12 times faster than overall job creation, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. There are now more jobs in solar than in oil, gas, and coal extraction in the U.S. (See below chart from Bloomberg).
Renewable power, led by wind and solar, attracted twice as much investment in 2015 as fossil fuels, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Factors driving this trend include the following.
1. Wealthy countries are phasing out coal, China's demand for coal is starting to flatten, and the rate of growth for coal-fired power in other developing countries is slowing.
2. Wind and solar costs have fallen dramatically due to economies of scale. Since 2000, the amount of global electricity produced by solar power has doubled seven times over, and wind power has doubled four times. Wind and solar now compete with fossil energy on an unsubsidized basis in many parts of the world.
3. Wind and solar are technologies, not fuels. Thus, efficiency increases and prices fall over time. The price of batteries to store wind and solar power and smooth out the effects of intermittency is also falling.
4. Investment in oil and gas infrastructure is falling as prices for these commodities have tanked. While falling prices for fossil fuels are primarily due to oversupply, the transition to renewable power generation and the uptake of electric vehicles are contributing to a long-term shift by reducing demand for fossil fuels.
On February 12, 2016, energy ministers of the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Climate Change and Energy Collaboration and launched a web platform that displays maps of North American energy infrastructure.
Per the MOU the three countries will collaborate and share information in six key areas: