Looking Back at 2021’s Renewable Energy Developments
2021 was a great year for renewable energy and helped pave the way for a more sustainable future. Let’s look back at the many developments that happened last year:
Solar dominated the renewable energy sector
Solar made up more than half of the renewable energy added this year, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) believes that it will likely make up 95% of new power capacity globally through 2026. That means the amount of solar energy generated could be equivalent to today’s fossil fuel and nuclear energy generation combined.
The U.S. solar sector exceeded 2022’s record of solar installed (19.2 gigawatts), despite the rising cost of solar. Even with increasing material costs and supply chain issues, consumer demand for solar continues to skyrocket.
Solar power is still the cheapest form of energy in history, with the IEA predicting a bright future for solar due to improving technology and risk-reducing policies.
Solar farms also gained popularity in 2021, making it a likely key player in the future of renewable energy. Solar farms are perfect for renters or homeowners who can’t add solar panels to their rooftops. Instead of having independent solar panels, customers can utilize these large collections of panels that convert solar energy into electricity and feed it back into the utility grid.
Wind energy is still one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sources in the U.S.
The U.S. added 24% more wind power projects in 2020 than in the previous year, setting wind power up to be one of the fastest-growing energy sources. Offshore wind projects continued to increase and have the biggest growth potential of any renewable energy technology.
The U.S. connected 6.1 gigawatts of wind power capacity to the grid just in the first half of 2021. Texas is the biggest producer of wind in the U.S. with over 33,000 gigawatts of wind capacity installed.
Although 2020 was a record year for wind power, a new normal for capacity additions was established in 2021. The IEA predicts that these additions will be maintained in the upcoming years.
Renewable energy usage is steadily rising
Renewable energy usage from solar and wind in the U.S. alone nearly quadrupled between 2011 and 2020. The energy usage continued to increase in 2021 and is expected to increase another 10% in 2022.
While 2020 and 2021 were both record-breaking years for renewable energy, we’re looking forward to seeing what developments 2022 has in store for a more sustainable future.