Solar power is expanding rapidly. The United States now has over 53 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed – enough to power 10.1 million homes and 26 times as much capacity as was installed at the end of 2010. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have invested in solar energy and millions more are ready to join them.
America’s major cities have played a key role in the clean energy revolution and stand to reap tremendous benefits from solar energy. As population centers, they are major sources of electricity demand and, with millions of rooftops suitable for solar panels, they have the potential to be major sources of clean energy as well.
Over a 21-month period from January 2016 to September 2017, major industrial facilities released pollution that exceeded the levels allowed under their Clean Water Act permits more than 8,100 times. Often, these polluters faced no fines or penalties.
The adoption of large numbers of electric vehicles (EVs) offers many benefits for cities, including cleaner air and the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicles are far cleaner than gasoline-powered cars, with lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower emissions of the pollutants that contribute to smog and particulate matter.
America must shift away from fossil fuels and towards clean, renewable sources of energy in order to protect our air, water and land, and to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, are virtually unlimited and produce little to no pollution. With renewable energy technology improving and costs plummeting, it is now possible to imagine a future in which all of America’s energy comes from clean, renewable sources. The availability of wind and solar power, however, varies by the hour, day and season. To repower our economy with clean energy, we need an electric grid that is capable of incorporating large volumes of variable renewable resources. Energy storage technologies can be an important part of that electric grid of the future, helping to assure reliable access to electricity while supporting America’s transition to 100 percent renewable energy. To get the most benefit out of energy storage, however, policy-makers and the general public need to understand how energy storage works, where and when it is necessary, and how to structure public policy to support the appropriate introduction of energy storage.
Environment Texas Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.