Faced with COVID-19 pandemic and sharp economic contraction, the U.S. clean energy sectors showed strong resilience in 2020, continuing a decade-long growth trend, BloombergNEF (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) find in their annual joint report. The ninth edition of theSustainable Energy in America Factbook tells the story of American energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy in a volatile year.
This story is told for the first time with over 130 slides and data visualizations that put 2020 performance in the context of past years, said the organizations.
Figure 1: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Source: BloombergNEF estimate
The economic disruption caused a massive drop in national greenhouse gas emissions. Energy demand for electricity and transportation fell by 3.8% and 14.4%, respectively, supporting the 9% year-on-year decline in harmful greenhouse gas emissions for the United States. This fall in emissions (see Figure 1) is the most significant on record and puts the United States on track to meet its 2025 Paris Agreement commitment, though energy demand and emissions are expected to rebound with widespread vaccinations in 2021.
The impacts of cleaner electricity generation will persist. Figure 2 shows that natural gas and renewable generation continued to expand their share of the resource mix. A record 33.6 GW of wind and solar capacity was added to the grid this year.
“In a year when so much went sideways, it was a blockbuster year for renewable energy build and for the first time, a record 40% of U.S. power consumed generated no CO2 emissions,” said Ethan Zindler, BloombergNEF’s head of Americas. “Decarbonization of U.S. energy accelerated in 2020 and the benefits will be felt for years to come.”
“The continued growth of clean energy in the United States, in spite of the economic downturn and the challenges of the pandemic, demonstrates that the market for