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Is The Renewable Transition Harming The U.S. Economy?

Is The Renewable Transition Harming The U.S. Economy?

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Recent data from the 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook suggests that sectors of America’s energy market are quickly shifting towards greener energy, while also dispelling the myth that such shifts will hurt the economy. Despite a GDP growth of 12 percent since 2007, America’s usage of energy has fallen by 3.6 percent. Analysts believe this to be indicative of a new stage of American history in which energy productivity is improving, while increasingly less energy is needed to sustain growth.

These movements are overlapped by dramatic decreases in greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, 2016 marked a 25-year low – emissions have dropped 12 percent since 2007. As part of the original Paris Agreement, the U.S. has pledged to reduce national greenhouse gasses by over 25 percent by 2025 – these new numbers mean we are nearly halfway there.

These numbers are supplemented by the fact that consumers spent less than 4 percent of their annual household income on energy. This is the smallest estimate ever collected in America. Further, retail rates for electricity have fallen nationally by 3 percent. But in some regions, Texas for example, retail prices have fallen by as much as 29 percent. Moreover, since its peak in 2014, demand for electricity has fallen 1.2 percent. During the same period of time, GDP has grown 4.2 percent.

These numbers seem to contradict the widely-held belief that if America shifts away from carbon-based energy, we will either face economic deceleration, or radical price increases.

Further details concerning 2016 show that renewable energy sources have also spiked. Last year, the U.S. created 22 gigawatts of new renewable-energy-generating capacity. 12.5 of these gigawatts were generated from the solar industry. The wind industry contributed 8.5 gigawatts, and the remainder was comprised of additions from hydropower, biomass, biogas and waste-to-energy.

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