The CEO of the American Clean Power Association, Heather Zichal, discusses the future of renewable energy in America and how consumers can help.
Why is changing over to renewable energy important for our environment and economy?
The rapid growth in renewable energy is helping to decarbonize our economy and reduce harmful emissions while also delivering low-cost electricity to consumers and industry alike.
Clean energy already directly employs over 415,000 Americans across all 50 states, and with our industries’ incredible growth potential, the clean energy workforce could number over one million jobs by 2030.
As costs for wind, solar, and storage projects have come down, we’ve seen investments increase with the clean power workforce now surpassing the fossil fuel power sector in terms of total jobs. Continuing to invest in renewable energy in the United States will help strengthen the post-pandemic economy and ensure we have the workforce to meet our clean energy future.
Where are we now in the process of switching to renewable energy, and how can we get to where we need to be?
Right now, the United States has enough clean power for over 50 million homes – and that number is rising. Renewable energy in the U.S. has already grown ten thousand percent since 2000, and the Biden administration is poised to help us grow further with an ambitious, comprehensive approach to climate and energy policy that recognizes the key role the renewable energy industry plays in meeting important emission reduction targets.
As part of that effort, we hope to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. Creating a stable policy platform for offshore wind development and facilitating the first wave of significant projects will provide certainty for the industry, strengthen the workforce, and revolutionize domestic supply chains.
What can companies and individuals do to help push this step forward?
Companies can support this initiative, as many have, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing investment in renewable energy projects. Businesses looking to build new headquarters, data centers, and other backend operations facilities can actively seek out states with clean energy incentives to attract business owners to their communities, encouraging states to create a favorable environment that helps them reach their company’s sustainability goals.
Individuals can contact their elected representatives and demand access to lower-cost clean energy options that provide electricity to their homes, while also making their own environmentally conscious choices.
At ACP, we are working with our industry partners and member companies every day to ensure the stable and predictable policies our growing industry needs.
Where do you see this industry going into the future as we see many companies and countries setting net zero emissions goals by 2050?
As the shift to decarbonize the economy accelerates in the United States and around the world, demand for renewable energy will continue to increase. As we continue to bring these clean energy projects online, I’m excited to see how stand-alone storage and hybrid projects can be a game changer for the industry. With the right policies in place, we’re confident that the renewables industry will be able to meet our country’s energy needs.
In 2020, the United States built more renewable energy than any other year in our history. But for the United States to reach 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, we will have to add clean generation capacity at seven times the average annual rate for all types of generation capacity in the past. That will require significant investment in our electric grid and infrastructure, so we can ensure everyone has access to clean, low-cost renewable energy.