Renewable energy continues to surge, according to new analysis of the 'clean tech' sector, proving that as costs fall and support grows for wind, solar, goethermal and other sustainable alternatives the world can begin to release itself from the fossil fuel paradigm.
Strikingly—though the report by market analysis group Clean Edge saw falling prices and gains by renewables globally—their assessment also noted the sustained attacks on green energy by political forces backed by conservative factions and funded by coal, oil, and gas interests.
"In the U.S., conservative organizations and politicians continue to attack pro-clean energy policies at both the state and federal level," reads the report's introduction. "Numerous groups, most prominently the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are feeding off election-season rhetoric by ratcheting up efforts to roll back supportive policies such as state-backed renewable portfolio standards (RPS)."
At the state level, RPS requirements support increased production of energy from renewable energy sources by mandating utility companies diversify their production methods.
Forces of the political Right, including Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, made it a campaign issue in 2012 to end federal subsidies to the wind industry. But, as recent reporting shows, retention of those crucial subsidies shows that wind power is making continuation of the nuclear power industry a fool's errand.
According to Bloomberg:
Wind-generated electricity supplied about 3.4 percent of U.S. demand in 2012 and the share is projected to jump to 4.2 percent in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The wind power boom has benefited consumers in regions where wind development is fastest, contributing to a 40 percent wholesale power-price plunge since 2008 in the Midwest, for example. Yet the surplus is creating havoc for nuclear power and coal generators that sell their output into short-term markets.
Despite political opposition to clean energy, however, the report shows that wind and solar, specifically, continue to show real gains in the US and global energy markets. And the reasons, according to Clean Edge, have as much to do with the observable impacts of climate change than anything else.
According to the report:
In the aftermath of unprecedented climate disruption in the U.S. and abroad, resiliency and adaptation are becoming critical business and policy drivers as organizations scramble to meet a literally changing landscape. In the U.S., President Obama has signaled a strong commitment to expanding clean energy and energy efficiency in his second term, calling for a doubling of renewable power by 2020. And increasingly lower prices for clean-tech goods and services are helping wind and solar power reach cost parity in both utility-scale and distributed markets, making the value proposition increasingly attractive. Even amidst the carnage of 2012, clean energy has continued its ascent as a major economic force, with an increasing focus on deploying technologies that are ready and available now.
And the Guardian, which reviewed the report, adds:
Looking to the future, the report suggests innovation can continue to improve the performance of renewable technologies, including using biomimicry ideas to imitate nature. Curved wind turbine blades inspired by humpback whale fins have increased wind energy capture over flat blades by 25%, while mimicking photosynthesis using dye-sensitised solar cells based on titanium oxide instead of silicon is proving effective in low-light situations. In addition, energy efficiency developments like Nest's 'learning thermostat' and smartphone apps for thermostat control will help connect web and smart-grid technologies.