Far from slowing down in any way, the scaling of clean energy has been accelerating - with no end in sight. A few recent articles and reports highlight what we mean.
First, this op-ed by California Energy Commission member David Hochschild and California Clean Energy Fund managing director Danny Kennedy highlights the enormous progress being made in the Golden State, which by itself ranks as the world's fifth-largest economy, ahead of the United Kingdom.
According to Hochschild and Kennedy, with Gov. Jerry Brown's signature of SB100, California is now "on a path to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045...dispell[ing] the mythology that protecting the environment is bad for business" and "establish[ing] itself as the destination state for clean-tech startups."
How much of a destination state?
According to Hochschild and Kennedy, in 2017, California received nearly half of all clean-tech investment in the entire country. That's the result of a number of factors, of course, including strong leadership at the government policy level - leadership that can be emulated by other states and even countries.
Meanwhile, a new report by Deloitte strongly backs up the direction California is heading, concluding that "[t]echnological innovation, cost efficiencies, and increasing consumer demand are driving renewables—particularly wind and solar—to be preferred energy sources."
According to Deloitte, wind power and utility-scale solar are rapidly matching and surpassing fossil-fuel-fired power sources, for a variety of technological and economic reasons that show no signs of slowing down. To the contrary, what Deloitte finds is that technologies like energy storage, blockchain and artificial intelligence, advanced materials and 3-D printing are driving solar and wind power to greater and greater heights. The result, as Deloitte puts it, is that solar and wind power "now come closest to meeting three energy consumer priorities: reliability, affordability, and environmental responsibility."
So much for the fossil fuel industry's fallacious talking points about clean energy; today, solar and wind are becoming "important grid assets," putting "downward pressure on electricity prices" and helping companies, cities and customers save money.
No wonder that - as David Roberts of Vox explains - "the public wants 100% renewable energy, and quick."
Roberts explains that the utilities' argument that the transition to 100% clean energy can only take place very "gradually" and "carefully." The problem for utilities it that the public simply isn't buying it - and for good reason - but instead hears "excuses" and just wants utilities to get the job done. Perhaps most impressively, the public even says it will pay more to get 100% clean energy. Fortunately, given the plummeting price of solar and wind, it's much more likely that the public can have its cake (100% clean energy) and eat it too (lower-cost, possibly even MUCH lower-cost, power).
How much lower cost are we talking about?
This article by Bloomberg reports that surging amounts of cheap, inexhaustible solar and wind power on the grid is "outstripping demand during certain hours of the day," resulting in "power prices...slipping to zero or even below more often in more jurisdictions."
This all adds up to the following conclusion: We can have clean energy that's both cheap and reliable, as long as policymakers and entrenched incumbents in the fossil fuel and utility sectors get out of the way. The public is demanding 100% clean energy. The technology and pricing are ready and both are becoming more attractive every day. So what are we waiting for exactly?