International news: Renewable energy transforming America

The movement towards renewable energy sources, natural gas and other energy efficiency advances has been evident  in the US since the mid-2000s but has picked up strength in the past few years.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance recently released the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook​, which shows how the transition to cleaner and lower-carbon sources of energy production has picked up speed recently.

According to a February 5 press release, the use of renewable energy sources increased by 12 per cent from 2013 to 2012 and made up 13 per cent of the total energy production in the US in 2013.

To compare, in 2007 these sources were only responsible for 8 per cent of the total energy production.

This could partly be attributed to the lower cost of renewable energy, which is now cheaper than fossil fuels in some parts of the country. Another reason this trend may have taken off so strongly is the emergence of small distributed generators and financiers who back these small-scale systems.

According to Bloomberg, the shift to cleaner fuels has created whole new industries that have provided thousands of jobs in the the energy efficiency, renewable energy and natural gas sectors.

Further efficiency gains may come from smart grid and smart homes in future and this technology may start to become more pervasive.

Already, the clean energy change has meant huge savings when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, which have been reduced by around 10 per cent since 2005. 

This trend can be seem in Australian households, too. The percentage of South Australian properties with renewable electricity systems, like solar panels or hydro power systems, increased by a whopping 352 per cent during the period of 2010-12, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

A new report issued on January 30 indicates South Australia has paved the way where this new technology is concerned and its households might be rejoicing with lower electricity prices.

Around 16 per cent of residences in the state had renewable energy sources in 2012, said Peter Williams, Director of the ABS Centre of Environmental Statistics.

The percentage of Queensland houses was the next highest at 14 per cent and a further 11 per cent of Western Australian homes were equipped with the technology in 2012.

However, Queenslanders generated the most electricity with the average household producing around 1,513 kWh in 2012, a 213 per cent increase from 2010.

Posted by Tim Wolfenden.