Clean energy, full speed ahead

January 17, 2012 | 12:27 pm | , Solutions Associate

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts to give you the facts about clean energy. Click here to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

© 2011 Flickr/time anchor CC BY 2.0

2011 was a crazy year. The oil and gas industry spent millions lobbying members of Congress to support their dirty agenda. And the world struggled to recover from a sluggish economy. Yet through it all, clean energy continued to grow. Worldwide, the clean energy industry has grown in leaps and bounds in the past decade alone, and its expected growth is even better. Despite all the challenges of the past year, clean energy expanded to supply 20% of the world’s energy supply and investment in clean energy reached a record-breaking $260 billion last year.

Just how fast is clean energy growing? Think about this for a second: In the early 1990s, only a few countries had commercial wind farms. Today, more than 83 countries have commercial wind power installed. Overall, the clean energy sector has grown by 18% since 2005, and clean energy accounted for more than half of all new electric capacity added globally in 2010. Outside of hydro, the clean energy sector grew by 74% in just five short years. I think its fair to say the state of clean energy is strong.

Today, wind energy is still going strong, but solar power is giving wind a run for its money. Solar power is hands down the fastest growing clean energy technology on the planet. The last few years have been vital to the solar industry. In 2011, new solar capacity grew by 54%, driven by a record number of installations in Germany, Australia and Italy.

What will 2012 bring? Some signs, such as the increase in private investment, point to 2012 being the biggest year for clean energy yet. But one thing is for certain – with 118 countries already signing on to specific clean energy targets or supporting related polices (compared to 55 countries in 2005), the future of clean energy looks bright. Clean energy is central to fighting climate change, and we’re pretty excited about its future. Do people make fun of you because you get so excited when you see a cool wind turbine? Does your community have a wind or solar farm? Leave us a comment and let us know how clean energy impacts your life.