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America’s energy landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation. According to a new Energy Department report, falling costs for four clean energy technologies -- land-based wind power, solar panels, electric cars and LED lighting -- have led to a surge in demand and deployment.
The numbers tell an exciting story: America is experiencing a historic shift to a cleaner, more domestic and more secure energy future. That clean technology revolution is here today -- and it is gaining force.
Wind energy is the fastest growing source of power in the United States, creating jobs opportunities for thousands of Americans and boosting economic growth. In 2012, U.S. wind capacity topped 60 GW, enough energy to power more than 15 million homes.
The U.S. is on the verge of a major shift to solar energy, putting a clean, renewable energy source within reach of the average American family. In 2012, rooftop solar panels cost about 1 percent of what they did 30 years ago, and deployment is skyrocketing.
Before 2010, there was effectively no demand for electric vehicles. In 2012, Americans bought more than 50,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). And with battery costs falling more than 50 percent in the last four years, 2013 is set to be another banner year for PEVs. In the first half of 2013, Americans doubled the number of PEVs they purchased compared to the same period in 2012, and last month, PEV sales reached a new record high. More than 11,000 PEVs were sold in August 2013 -- that's a 29 percent improvement in sales over the previous monthly record.
Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs, LED lighting generates more light than heat and lasts as much as 25 times longer. Once an expensive niche product, LED bulbs are becoming an affordable choice for Americans looking to reduce their electric bills. In 2012, about 49 million LEDs were installed in the U.S. -- saving about $675 million in annual energy costs. Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon pollution.