FRAMINGHAM, MA – From Environment Massachusetts: Since 2007, Massachusetts has seen a 246-fold increase in the amount of electricity it gets from the sun, according to a new report released today by Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. The report also highlights advances in the use of energy storage, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.
“Every day, there’s more evidence that a cleaner, healthier world powered by renewable energy is possible,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “Our recent progress should give us confidence that a 100 percent renewable future is within reach.”
The report, Renewables on the Rise, comes as state officials debate whether to accelerate the growth of renewable energy and eliminate arbitrary caps on solar power. In order to pass a law this year, the House and Senate must come to an agreement on legislative language before July 31.
The report provides a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key technologies needed to power the nation with clean, renewable energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles. Massachusetts ranked 7th for solar and 1st for electricity efficiency savings.
According to the report, Massachusetts is 35th in the nation for the increase in electricity generation from wind between 2008-2017. Massachusetts’ wind energy generation is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years, with a commitment to install 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. The first offshore wind farm, developed by Vineyard Wind, is expected to begin construction in 2019.
The report describes the factors that rapid growth in each category since 2007, including policies, improved technologies and lower costs, all of which suggest the potential for continued rapid growth in the years to come.
“We’ve built a good foundation, especially in solar and energy efficiency,” said Alex Keally, Partner at Solect Energy. “But we need to build on that foundation by getting the Clean Energy Bill passed before the July 31st deadline in order to ensure a cleaner future for the Commonwealth.”
The report comes as a diverse group of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions commit to 100 percent renewable energy. In 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the country to set a 100 percent renewable energy requirement, and similar bills in both Massachusetts and California have cleared major hurdles this year.
In Massachusetts, seven cities and towns have adopted a goal of 100 percent renewable energy, with similar commitments pending in other communities. Boston University and Harvard University have committed to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, while Hampshire College is already powered entirely by on-campus solar panels.
Globally, 131 major companies, including Biogen, Google, and P&G, have committed to power their operations with 100 percent renewable energy.
In June, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill that would eliminate caps on solar net metering and increase renewable energy to 50 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity consumption by 2030 and 100 percent by 2047. Legislation approved by the House is less ambitious and will not meet the goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050. The legislative session ends on July 31.
Framingham has begun to take steps toward the clean energy revolution.
“As Framingham has moved from a town to a city, our new government has backed the reduction of our carbon footprint by creating a Sustainable Coordinator, who can lead the implementation of the town meeting resolution to move to 100 percent renewable energy,” said Larry Stoodt from 350 MA Metrowest Node.
“Framingham bears the burden of over 500 environmental hazardous sites largely due to fossil fuels. From 1880 to 1967 a former manufactured gas plant polluted 20 acres of land and wetlands with the by- products of gas production- carcinogenic coal tar, creosote, arsenic sulfur and cyanide compounds,” said Framingham District 8 City Councilor Judith Grove. “Public health demands that we stop pollution caused by fossil fuels and fully support clean energy.”
Image via Shutterstock / pan demin
Get the Framingham newsletter