Though coal, natural gas, and oil still comprise about two-thirds of the United States’ overall energy basket, electricity generated from solar, wind and additional renewable energy technologies has now set records for every single month of the year thus far, for 2016.
According to data just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Big Oil and Gas (really a few wealthy industrialists) are relinquishing their choke hold on our ability to power our homes, our cars, and our lives with cleaner energy.
Though individuals like the Koch brothers have been actively promoting the burning of oil, gas, and other dirty fuels as ‘pro-human’ — with slick, multi-million-dollar ad campaigns trying to rebrand fossil fuels’ bad reputation — lengthy droughts and other influences have forced states to look at hydropower, solar, wind, and other abundant fuel sources that aren’t propped up by billion-dollar government subsidies, while pillaging the planet’s natural resources and destroying ecosystems.
Though one small town in America actually banned solar panels because residents thought they would ‘suck up all the energy from the sun,’ the truth of the matter is that even illiterate grandmothers in remote villages have learned to build solar panels to provide their communities with much needed light, electricity for cooking stoves, and other small appliances.
One study recently published by Science suggests that the oil and gas industry have collectively occupied and damaged approximately 3 million hectares of land — the equivalent of three Yellowstone National Parks.
Multiple oil spills in our oceans have impacted sea turtles, mangroves, and coral reefs.
This massive sea-change from land- and sea-ruining fossil fuels to renewable energy is happening even as oil prices dropped to record lows in recent months.
Iowa, for example, supplied over 31 percent of its residents with electricity via wind power last year. Without making a single change in wind-generating infrastructure, which is still in the process of working out some kinks, all of Texas, California, Colorado, and Kansas could be entirely run on wind power.
Wind power is breaking records, but it hasn’t stopped growing. Other projects, like the Block Island Wind Farm, a 30-megawatt installation off the coast of Rhode Island, prove that there is ample energy yet to be tapped into, literally flying in our faces.
Washington, Oregon, New York, California, Alabama, Tennessee, Montana, Idaho, North Carolina, and Arizona are all utilizing hydropower to keep their lights on.
California, Arizona, North Carolina, and New Jersey lead the way in solar use, while other states like Hawaii and Colorado say, move over oil, we’re leaving fossil fuels behind for the energy of the sun. The Solar Energy Industries Association expects a 94 percent growth in solar markets for 2016.
An estimated 1.2 billion people in the world still live without access to electricity at all, so cleaner, more accessible forms of energy generation not only help the planet, but also provide opportunities to communities who have been ‘in the dark’ for far too long.