Despite what critics say, renewable energy is not only a viable alternative energy source, production is booming. The U.S. has installed a record amount of solar so far this year with even more installation in the fourth quarter expected. All this growth comes in the wake of the furious attacks on the solar industry after Solyndra and Congress’ inaction on extending important production tax credits. At the state level, California increased their share of renewable energy from 13 percent to 20 percent in just three years. The state is on target to reach its goal of one-third of its electricity coming from renewable energy by 2020.
California’s renewable energy growth is a great example of how policy can drive innovation. Once the state passed its mandate, there was a level of market certainty. Renewable energy producers knew that there would be a sustained level of market demand so it became more attractive for investors. The market demand and growth also provides support for training workers for the jobs that will come with the renewable energy boom. As a result, while overall employment in California grew 12 percent from 1995 to 2010, jobs in the green sector increased 50 percent.
Given these numbers, it’s not hard to see why opponents are attacking renewable energy at all levels. Fossil fuel interests have a lot to lose if we shift to a clean economy and they are doing their all to prevent this shift from happening. The right-wing group ALEC is putting substantial time and resources into attacking renewable production goals at the state level. The Koch Brothers support not only ALEC but also bogus research attacking renewable energy. In the last election, the fossil fuel industry spent over $150 million trying to defeat President Obama.
Yet, the false attacks and bogus research cannot negate the truth of the matter: renewable production is growing and the potential for growth is significant. Yes, fossil fuels are currently cheaper but only because we have subsidized their development and production for so long. If that same level of support went into renewable energy production and expansion, we would begin to shift our energy mix from dirty to clean energy.
But, don’t take my word for it. The numbers speak for themselves.