Wind power is clean, affordable, domestically produced renewable electricity. Wind turbines emit no pollution, and repay the energy it takes to build them in five to eight months. Thanks to technological advances, the price of American wind power has fallen over 50 percent in the last five years, saving consumers money. And building new wind farms has attracted over $75 billion in private investment to the U.S. economy since 2009. Wind power has created tens of thousands of well-paying manufacturing and construction jobs, and offers family farmers and ranchers a new drought-resistant cash crop. Wind now powers close to 5 percent of the U.S. power grid, and could reach 20 percent by 2030 according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Hydropower is the country’s largest and most well established renewable electricity producer. Hydropower plants and supply chain companies make up a thriving industry that benefits communities across the country with affordable clean energy and domestic jobs. The existing fleet of over 2,200 hydropower plants already provides the country with 100,000 MW of affordable, reliable hydropower capacity.
The U.S. solar industry is one of the fastest growing energy sectors, and America has some of the richest solar resources in the world. Solar power is a flexible energy technology: power plants can be built as distributed generation (located at or near the point of use) or as a central-station, utility-scale solar power plant (similar to traditional power plants). Some utility-scale solar plants can store the energy they produce for use after the sun sets. The U.S. solar market faces both challenges and great opportunities; the industry is working to scale up the production of solar technology, while simultaneously driving down manufacturing and installation costs.
Geothermal energy is a clean, renewable resource that provides energy in the U.S. and around the world in a variety of applications and resources. Geothermal provides reliable baseload electricity, and is considered a renewable resource because the heat emanating from the interior of the Earth is essentially limitless. Although certain areas with telltale signs like hot springs are more obvious – and are often the first places geothermal resources are used – the heat of the earth is available everywhere. This heat, which travels primarily by conduction, is estimated to be equivalent to 42 million megawatts of power, and is expected to remain so for billions of years to come, ensuring an inexhaustible supply of energy.
Recovery from waste is the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity, or fuel. Converting these materials into electricity and heat generates a clean, renewable electricity source and reduces carbon emissions by offsetting the need for energy from fossil sources and reduces methane generation from landfills. Currently there are 84 U.S. facilities for the combustion of municipal solid waste, with energy recovery. These facilities have the capacity to produce 2,770 megawatts of power per year by processing more than 30 million tons of waste annually.
Biomass power is carbon neutral electricity generated from renewable organic waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfills, openly burned, or left as fodder for forest fires. This organic waste can include scrap lumber, forest debris, agricultural harvest waste, and other industry byproducts that serve no other purpose. Biomass power uses these natural materials to generate clean, renewable electricity, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Biomass offers significant other environmental and consumer benefits, including improving forest health, protecting air quality, and offering the most dependable renewable electricity source.