The State of the Clean Energy 2017


Aries Clean Energy

Publication Date

March 20, 2017

The Clean Energy Economy is on a roll. After a decade of building momentum, the sector is powering the largest percentage of Americans’ energy needs in history.

Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), recently stated, “Throughout 2016, as with the year before it, the indicators of great change in energy markets were everywhere. But when examined holistically, at a global level, the scale and pace of change is simply staggering, not entirely unexpected, but staggering nonetheless.”


What is Clean Energy?

“Clean” means different things to different people. The US Environmental Protection Agency says that “clean energy” includes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and efficient combined heat and power.[1] While efficiency is a significant piece of the clean energy puzzle, most of the growth in power production has come in the form of renewable energy. According to the Energy Information Administration, “renewable energy refers to resources that are replenished in a relatively short period of time.” Renewable energy sources include hydropower, wood biomass (used to generate heat and electricity), alternative biomass fuels (such as ethanol and biodiesel), waste, geothermal, wind, and solar.


What does Aries Clean Energy do?

At Aries Clean Energy, we focus on biomass materials from existing sources like commercial wood waste, biological sludge and scrap tires that might otherwise end up in landfills. In general, this subset of more notable “renewable” energy sources is called bioenergy. In a world where waste fills landfills and spills into our natural habitats, diverting our waste streams to energy sources will help usher in a cleaner planet.

While many critics think clean energy can only contribute a small percent to U.S. power production, clean energy has steadily become a driver for the future of our economy. Consider that in just the last two decades or so wind turbines have grown from a pipe dream to powering 10% of Texas’ electricity in 2014.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory released its Renewable Energy Data Book, which shows that clean energy is just the revealing the proverbial tip of its iceberg. In 2015, investment in clean energy around the world went up by more than 4%, totaling $329 billion. In the United States, clean energy investment grew by 10%, totaling $45 billion in 2015. In fact, renewable technologies accounted for 64% of all new electricity generating capacity constructed in the U.S. in 2015.

In the last 15 years, renewable energy capacity has grown 115%.




While our current clean energy capacity is greater than ever, the U.S. is in second place to China in clean energy investments[2]:

Which states are the biggest movers?

Clean energy is taking on a local and regional flare. Renewable Energy World has this to say:

“For wind power, the states with the most growth so far this year (in terms of actual generation) are Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, and Colorado. Just those five states alone have added enough generation in the first six months of the year to power an additional three million homes.

For solar power, the states with the most growth (in terms of actual generation) are California, North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia. Just those five states alone have added enough generation in the first six months of the year to power nearly an additional one million homes. It should be noted that Utah (ranked 6th on that list) has increased solar power generation over 700 percent so far this year.

In Iowa, wind power is rivaling coal as the top source of electric generation. By 2017, Iowa may become the first U.S. state in history to generate a majority of its power from wind.

California is generating nearly 30 percent of its generation from non-hydro renewable energy so far this year; not to mention importing significant generation from solar, geothermal, and wind power from its neighbors.

The Northwest continues to be a leader in hydropower deployment and innovation. Geothermal technologies are being steadily deployed in states around the Rocky Mountains, while the Southeast continues to install cutting-edge renewable biomass technologies.”


What factors are contributing to the rise in clean energy capacity in the U.S.?

  • Fossil-fuel electricity prices continue to increase over time.
  • Greater power needs and economic growth demand more capacity quickly (Large fossil-fuel plants take years to build and hundreds of millions of investment, including subsidies).
  • Company directors who fail fiduciary duties relating to climate-related risks could face litigation.[3]
  • Costs of renewable technologies continue to plummet.
  • Global pressure from climate change has created a more serious political conversation and impressive commitments from countries around the world to reduce their carbon emissions by 2030.
  • Old technologies have been revamped to supply clean energy, such as Aries Clean Energy’s downdraft gasification technology
  • Carbon pricing schemes are taking shape. 2017 will see the largest ever increase in global emissions covered by carbon trading schemes. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and California Carbon Dashboard are two markets in the US that price carbon. And 5 major countries including the EU have carbon markets or are pricing carbon.

Even the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is changing how we think about generating, storing, and using energy. Their AMIE project, which stands for Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy, used 3D printing to print a house with an integrated vehicle, high insulation, and energy production built into the house. The military is one of the leading installers of solar. Together, these moves signify the logical progression to more reliable, renewable and cost-protected sources of energy that will fuel growing global economy.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis’ (IEEFA) Tim Buckley believes we all need to jump on board.

“Indeed, our analysis further highlights that those who fail to recognize and grasp the financial and economic changes afoot are rapidly being left behind and are facing ever increasing financial risk.”


What’s the legislative climate like?

In the U.S., the Clean Power Plan could speed up clean energy growth. Put forth in 2016, the Plan calls for states to set emissions limits. It is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. While the plans immediate political future is uncertain, you can expect it will be implemented in some form in the future as climate change continues to impact the U.S. economy.

Wall Street is also taking notice. The rapidly growing green bond market is an indication that private capital is moving out of fossil fuels and into renewable energy. Asset management companies and investment funds are putting money into companies, funds, and index funds that power clean energy.

What does the future hold?

As you can see in the chart to the left, as clean energy grows, each piece of the pie will grow with it.

At Aries Clean Energy, we know one solution won’t solve it all. That’s why we’re doing our part to take the ever-increasing amount of waste in our world and cleanly converting the biomass portion to usable and clean energy.











[2] Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment, 2016

[3] Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

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