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Year in Review: 2017 Energy Trends and Facts

Posted December 19, 2017 | By Direct Energy Business

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In our last blog we reviewed the policy changes brought by President Donald Trump’s administration. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the most significant trends and notable advancements in the energy sector.

 

Those include:

  • The expansion of renewable energy
  • Continued growth of natural gas
  • Decline of coal capacity
  • State of carbon emissions

Growth of Renewable Energy

2017 has proven to be a boon for renewable energy.  With solar and wind growing the fastest.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration,  “almost 15% of total electricity generation in 20161  came from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric plants.”   

Renewables bring lower costs, higher sustainability and little-to-no carbon emissions.

Solar alone has decreased in cost by nearly 75% since 20102, making it more attractive to businesses and consumers alike.

Wind energy is on a similar path, led by Iowa, which gets 36 percent of all power generation from wind.  In fact, there were 100,000 employed in the U.S. wind energy sector in 2016, with 600,000 forecast by 20503  .

Not to mention, wind turbine tech is the single fastest growing American job this decade, most notably in rural areas.  

Natural Gas Rises, Coal Declines

Even as renewables skyrocket, natural gas still holds an important place in U.S. energy production and use. Just over 1/3rd, or 34 percent of the country’s energy comes from natural gas. Just a decade ago, coal was the energy dominator.

Since then, the country has cut about 17 percent of its total coal capacity, with another 4 percent moving to other energy sources. And it’s not unique to North America.

 In fact, Italy vowed to completely remove coal5  from its slate of energy generation by 2025.

Meanwhile, industry watchdogs are keeping their eyes on the Trump administration, curious to see what will happen with all of the President’s policies, in particular the coal industry subsidies.

What’s Happening With Global Emissions

2016 was the first time Earth’s atmosphere had 400 parts per million of CO2,6  the highest our planet has had in the last three million years.

Renewable energy sources, in tandem with human vigilance around electricity waste, will play a big role in potentially turning these numbers around.

This is especially true in the United States. The U.S. is a major contributor to carbon and carbon dioxide emissions, along with China and the European Union, which together account for over 50 percent of total emissions.

And yet there’s room for optimism: many countries — the U.S. included — have put policies and incentives in place to reduce emissions .7

 

For the whole story on 2017 Energy Highlights, as well as Policy Changes and 2018 Predictions, check out the Year in Review: Energy Industry News & Events from 2017.

 year in review



 

1 https://business.directenergy.com/blog/2017/october/clean-power-plan-repeal
2
http://climateanalytics.org/hot-topics/ratification-tracker.html
3
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/climate/american-cities-climate-standards.html
4
https://business.directenergy.com/blog/2017/october/doe-order-could-impact-wholesale-markets
5
https://energy.gov/eere/office-energy-efficiency-renewable-energy
6
https://www.americaspledgeonclimate.com/news/mike-bloomberg-statement-plans-cop23/

 

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