We believe that 2023 will be looked on as a turning point in the clean energy revolution and the race to save the planet. This was the point in time when solar and wind energy became cheaper to produce than traditional energy. 2023 is the year that municipalities invested heavily in a clean energy future, setting the stage for a majority of U.S. energy to be from renewable sources in the next couple of decades. What are the clean energy trends driving this sea change to a sustainable future? Here are our top picks for clean energy trends to watch in 2023.
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EV sales skyrocket with one million sold
Electric cars are finally taking off, with over one million sold in the U.S. for the first time in 2023. Even though only 40% of Americans say their next car will be an EV, the interest in electric vehicles is going mainstream for the first time.
Related: Hydrogen made of biomass revolutionizes clean energy
And there are finally plenty of options of EVs to purchase, though the price of cars has been a challenge due to recent near double-digit inflation. Bloomberg is predicting that more Americans will drive EVs than will drive ICE cars by 2030, which means the EV revolution is happening this decade. We are in it now.
Offshore wind takes flight
In 2023, the U.S.’s first large-scale offshore wind farms are coming online. The U.S. currently only has two operational offshore wind farms, in Rhode Island and Virginia, with a total of seven turbines and capacity of 42 megawatts. It’s not a very significant contribution to the grid.
By the end of the year, the first of a new set of gigantic offshore wind farms should be close to operational in the U.S. Vineyard Wind 1 will be located off of Massachusetts, with 800 megawatt capacity, and South Fork Wind will be located off of New York with 132 megawatt capacity. BloombergNEF reports another 5,400 megawatts are on track to finalize financing or begin construction in 2023. As solar and wind power continue to become less expensive than traditional alternative fuels to produce, we expect this to be the turning point when wind power really took off.
Legislation changes the world
Well, that’s not a headline we thought we would write, to be honest, but the U.S. government and other world governments deserve their props for what climate-targeted legislation they can produce to save the world in time to avoid catastrophic climate change. State lawmakers in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota are preparing to pass climate and clean energy legislation.
The Inflation Reduction Act is driving heavy investment in U.S. manufacturing for the first time in decades for the sake of EV tax credits and other incentives. It comes at a time when clean technologies can power plants and produce sustainable products for the first time in modern history. According to the International Monetary Fund, the IRA is the most significant piece of climate legislation ever created in U.S. history, funneling $400 billion into climate change mitigation projects over the next decade.
Managed correctly, the recent climate bills could shift the course of history.
The headwinds against wind power
The Inflation Reduction Act barely passed in 2022. Political instability and rancor in the U.S. continues to threaten climate goals that affect the entire world.
But there are good signs that this time wind power is really here to stay. The IRA contains about $370 billion in tax credits and incentives for renewable energy and EVs, including extra incentives for companies making clean energy technology in the U.S. Where recent years have been dominated by partisan politics, now state governments are racing to meet climate objectives and realizing it pays to work together to build the heart of the sustainable energy industry in the U.S. for the next generation.
“Congress has an important role to play in guiding the swift and effective implementation of the IRA,” said Jose Zayas, executive vice president of policy and programs for the American Council on Renewable Energy, a trade group. “The Treasury Department is still issuing guidance related to key provisions, which will have crucial implications for developers and homeowners seeking to take advantage of a suite of new clean energy tax credits. Congress must use its oversight authority to ensure prompt completion of guidance from Treasury.”
In other words, the final challenge is implementation. Can these programs live up to their promises? While battery technology develops the capacity to power the future and more clean energy plants are pushed through financing and permitting, how we roll out our climate-oriented programs over the next decade will in part direct the course of history as we struggle into a sustainable future.
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