Climate change is a global issue, but developed nations such as the United States produce the majority of the greenhouse gases that contribute to it. Which is why it is so important to focus on renewables for a clean energy future. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States is the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas producer behind China, creating 19 percent of global carbon emissions. The primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is electricity generation, accounting for 31 percent of total emissions. Approximately 67 percent of the nation’s electricity derives from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.
On August 3, 2015, President Obama unveiled the EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants, setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon emissions from power plants. Known as the Clean Power Plan, the standards set state-by-state goals to cut carbon emissions from power plants across the country by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, all while keeping energy affordable and reliable. The standards build on steps taken by states, cities and organizations to move to cleaner sources of energy such as solar power.
Solar power has great potential as an energy source, and its cost is trending downward due to improvements in technology and increased demand among residential and commercial customers. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the residential solar market alone grew 76 percent over the previous year in the first quarter of 2015, making solar energy one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the United States.
By 2016, solar power is expected to generate enough energy nationwide to power eight million homes, offsetting 45 million metric tons of carbon emissions — the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the roads or closing 12 coal-fired power plants. The Clean Power Plan will only make the growth of solar energy more rapid, helping to lead the United States toward a clean energy future.
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