Renewable energy growth in the US in 2021 fell far short of what’s needed to reach climate goals, according to a new report by trade group American Clean Power.
The US installed close to 28 gigawatts (GW) of wind, solar, and energy storage capacity last year — which ACP says is less than half of what’s needed to reach Joe Biden’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power grid by 2035. It’s also a 3 percent drop from 2020’s record rate of clean energy installations, as the US wind and solar industries trudged through supply chain disruptions, rising commodity prices and shipping costs, and policy uncertainty last year.
Globally, 2021 still managed to set a recordfor renewable energy growth. But there were unique roadblocks for wind and solar deployment in the US. Last June, the Department of Homeland Security cracked down on goods made with silica tied to human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Customs agents began seizing solar panels and other silica-based products from a Chinese companyfacing allegations of forced labor. That could continue to “further delay projects or even lead to their cancellation,” ACP says in its report. Xinjiang produces about 45 percent of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon, and the blacklisted company is the region’s largest producer.