NRDC to track 4 clean energy technologies Trump Administration wants to ignore
The Natural Resources Defense Council today launched a new initiative to track the historic development of wind and solar power, LED light bulbs, and electric vehicles — four highly successful clean energy technologies that have benefited from federal R&D investment—now that the Energy Department has abandoned the effort.
NRDC’s “Revolution Now” website features interactive graphs and the latest statistics on deployment and cost declines for the four technologies. Compiled from data publicly available in government and industry reports, it illustrates how each technology has been breaking records year after year while significantly declining in cost. NRDC plans to update the information at least annually.
The website (https://www.nrdc.org/revolution-now) replaces a similarly named report discontinued by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the Trump administration, which has sought to slash public funding for clean energy research and development. The DOE published the report from 2013 through 2016.
“The DOE’s clean energy research and development investments are propelling breakthrough innovations from the lab into our everyday lives,” said Elizabeth Noll, NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy Program deputy director of congressional and external affairs. “They’re reducing our energy bills, creating local jobs, and avoiding the pollution that harms our health and climate. Yet the Trump administration is trying to gut critical clean energy research at a time when we need to keep investing in American innovation that can transform our lives and keep the U.S. competitive globally.”
Highlights of NRDC’s Revolution Now webpage include:
- Wind is now the cheapest energy source in many regions of the country, with the average price dropping 75 percent since 2008. There is enough wind power available today to power 25 million U.S. homes, thanks in part to technology advancements resulting from federal R&D investment.
- Solar technology now produces enough electricity to power more than 9 million U.S. homes. The cost of installing giant solar farms to generate electricity delivered by utilities decreased by 71 percent from 2008 to 2016. Costs to install smaller-scale solar systems, such as rooftop solar panels, have been sliced by more than half over the past decade, enabling a 20-fold increase in adoption by 2016.
- More than 400 million LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs were installed in America’s light sockets as of 2016, compared to 400,000 in 2009. Their price has dropped 94 percent in the past decade and they typically consume 75 to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs—with the most efficient bulbs saving even more. Further R&D will make LEDs cheaper and more efficient.
- Almost 195,000 electric vehicles (EVs) were sold last year, bringing the total on U.S. roads to more than 750,000. Federal research has helped bring down the price of lithium-ion batteries by 79 percent since 2010, enabling the EV industry to expand.
“America’s energy and transportation systems are transforming at breakneck speed and there’s no shortage of ideas for our universities, national labs, and clean energy innovators to explore and help develop. Other countries are racing ahead with investments in clean energy R&D, but America risks being left behind without sustained federal R&D investment,” Noll said.
A related blog by Arjun Krishnaswami, a Schneider Sustainable Energy Fellow who helped produce the NRDC Revolution Now web page, can be found here
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.