"Top 10 Clean Energy Stories of 2011 (with Charts)"
What an odd year. While businesses around the world were making record level investments in renewables and efficiency, a growing number of conservative politicians and members of the American media punditry — lead by the outrageously ignorant “reporting” by Fox News — have been foolishly projecting (even cheering on) the demise of the sector.
Aside from the mind-boggling disparity between the science and politics of climate change, I’ve never seen such a large gap between perception and what’s actually happening on the ground.
Of course, we can’t ignore the enormous challenges — from cheap natural gas to relentless competition in manufacturing — that will lead to the death of many of the companies we know today. That is part of the natural (and sometimes violent) shake-out we can expect to see in years to come.
However, in order to add to our “climate solutions menu” on this site and cut through some of the recent political attacks, we’ve added more stories on the positive trends in clean energy. Here are some of our favorites from the last year (with some of our best clean energy charts of the year):
Even with a severe financial crisis in Europe and the continued malaise in the U.S., renewable energy surpassed fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments in 2011.
This great series of charts shows just how cost-competitive solar photovoltaics have become with new coal and nuclear plants in the U.S.
While RGGI was being implemented, conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity claimed the regional cap and trade program would drive rates up 90%. An independent analysis shows that after three years, the program has set a course for $1.2 billion in ratepayer savings.
This year saw a couple record-setting, private-sector investments in efficiency, proving once again that the biggest companies in the world see enormous value in reducing energy.
The geothermal industry has had its share of troubles financing and building projects in the last couple of years. But a new Google-funded map shows that technically exploitable geothermal resources in the U.S. are equivalent to 10 times our current coal capacity.
Despite what we hear from politicians who call green jobs “progaganda,” a Brookings Institute report released this summer showed “torrid” growth in high-paying, export-heavy green jobs around the U.S.
With over $915 million in clean energy investments to date, Google is emerging was one of the leading players in renewables and efficiency. In order to make a more immediate impact on the market, the tech giant has switched its focus from R&D to deployment.
With a high-profile trade war against the Chinese brewing in the solar market, it’s often forgotten that the U.S. is actually a net exporter of solar products to China and the rest of the world. With 73 cents out of every dollar spent on a solar installation staying within the U.S., this sector is providing immense domestic value.
Opponents of strategic government investments in clean energy seem to forget the past. A report on historic government investments showed that the federal commitment to oil and gas was five times greater than the commitment to renewables during the first 15 years of a subsidy’s life.
Anyone watching the presidential primaries has seen an astonishing reversal from candidates on climate science and support of clean energy. It turns out, that negative rhetoric can actually have negative consequences for candidates.
See any we’ve missed — either on Climate Progress or on other sites? Tell us what your top stories are in the comments section.