The United States Department of Energy's Office of Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Energy recently released its Revolution Now 2016 report (the Report). This
is an annually updated report that looks at the deployment of five
clean energy technologies in the U.S. market – wind,
utility-scale photovoltaic (PV), distributed PV, light-emitting
diodes (LED) and electric vehicles.
The key message in the Report is that the costs of these technologies
continue to decline, and this is driving substantial uptake. The Report includes data and commentary about the
costs and deployment of each of the five technologies. In every
case, the costs have dropped significantly (by at least 41% since
2008), and the adoption has increased markedly.
An interesting case study is with LED lights. As seen in the
chart below (copied from the Report), the cost of LEDs has declined by more
than 90% since 2008, and the use of LEDs has grown exponentially.
Just in the last year, installations have increased by more than
According to the Report, the energy savings from LED
installations saved $2.8 billion in energy costs in 2015, and
prevented 13.8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. In the longer
term, the Department of Energy estimates that LEDs could make up
over 85% of American lighting installations by 2035, driven by
performance increases and cost savings relative to conventional
lighting. This could result in a 75% reduction in annual lighting
energy consumption by 2035 over a scenario without LEDs. This would
result in total annual energy savings nearly equivalent to the
energy consumed by 45 million homes. The cumulative savings from
2015 through 2035 would save nearly $630 billion in avoided energy
costs, along with very significant emissions reductions from
avoided electricity generation.
In addition to reporting on progress with the five listed clean
energy technologies, the Report also looks at several other emerging
technologies that can assist in energy efficiency and carbon
reduction. These include "super trucks" (a program to
increase fuel efficiency by 50%); "smart buildings" (with
better energy management); "lightweighting" of materials
used for vehicles; grid scale batteries; and "additive
manufacturing" (like 3D printing, where items are constructed
using raw material only as needed rather than through a
sculpting-like process where material is trimmed away and
discarded). The Report notes the Department of Energy's
intention to invest in research and development of these and other
technologies to address market barriers and make them more cost
effective and widely available in the near future.
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