Solar power grew at a record-breaking pace in 2015. The United States now has more than 27,000 megawatts (MW) of cumulative solar electric capacity, enough to power more than 5.4 million American homes. Hundreds of thousands of Americans – especially in our cities – have invested in solar panels on their roofs or solar projects in their communities, and millions more are ready to join them.
Solar energy is expanding rapidly across the United States – increasing more than 100-fold over the past decade. But, there are still many untapped opportunities to harness the nation’s nearly limitless solar potential. The United States has the technical potential to produce more than 100 times as much electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) installations as the nation consumes each year. Given our abundant solar resources, America must take advantage of untapped opportunities to install solar technologies – like using rooftops of large superstores and “big box” retail stores as hosts for clean electricity generation.
Wind power continues to grow as a source of clean energy across America. The United States generated 26 times more electricity from wind power in 2014 than it did in 2001. American wind power has already significantly reduced global warming pollution. In 2014 alone, wind-generated electricity averted an estimated 143 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – as much as would be produced by 37 typical coal-fired power plants. With America’s massive potential for wind energy on land and off our coasts, wind power can play a key role in meeting the emission reduction targets of the recently adopted Clean Power Plan and moving the nation toward a future of 100 percent renewable electricity.
Since 2005, oil and gas companies have drilled 4,350 wells on West Texas land owned by the University of Texas. Of those wells, 95 percent have been subject to high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Fracking threatens the environment and human health by consuming vast amounts of water, introducing toxic chemicals into our air and water, and damaging natural landscapes.
Solar energy is on the rise in the United States. At the end of the first quarter of 2015, more than 21,300 megawatts of cumulative solar electric capacity had been installed around the country, enough to power more than 4.3 million homes. The rapid growth of solar energy in the United States is the result of forward-looking policies that are helping the nation reduce its contribution to global warming and expand its use of local renewable energy sources.