2015 could be the year that we look back at in the not too distant future to reflect on what


2015 could be the year that we look back at in the not too distant future to reflect on what could be considered the starting point for an energy revolution. It has been a year in which natural gas overtook coal as the major fuel source for generation. It has been the year that utilities started to rebuild our infrastructure and utilize renewable technologies as more than just fringe science.

With so many major breakthroughs in renewable energy technology, global initiatives towards decarbonization, and state level infrastructure changes, we have had some memorable events and stories that are sure to shape our energy future. In this article we will recap the year that was in energy by highlighting the 10 biggest stories to hit the United States. This will be part one of two, with a follow up in the coming days.

As is the case with any top 10 list, the order of importance is always up for debate. What is not as subjective is the direct impact that these 10 stories have had, or will have on the American people. (Each story in our list has embedded links to the original story).

You will see as you read on, this list is dominated by stories pertaining to renewables and sustainability. Although we are still a people that are heavily reliant on fossil fuels, 2015 has shown that the U.S. is ready to start taking steps towards green alternatives.

10: Super-Group join forces for sustainability


The story about how some of the most influential minds in America have banded together to form “The Breakthrough Energy Coalition”, starts our list. Industry giants like Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg announced the formation of this group in December to further the advancement of renewable energy technologies. The result of this coalition could one day revolutionize the energy industry by assisting in the implementation of new cutting edge energy technologies. Since this was just recently announced, we will have to wait and see what the actual impact will be. For now, it is a hope and a promise for new alternative energy options. (read the full story here)


9: Microgrids and Smart Cities


Although this topic has quietly slipped pass the masses without much fanfare, 2015 will also be the year where we saw many U.S. cities take strides towards becoming “Smart Cities”. This is an important step towards integrating technology with energy grid infrastructure. With microgrid technology advancing, many U.S. cities are building their infrastructure to be able to sustain independently from the overall energy grid. Despite these steps being more expensive initially, the goal is to mitigate the tremendous cost of downtime that comes when a major weather event knocks out a portion of the energy grid. It was only a few years ago that the term microgrid was simply a buzz term. 2015 will show over time that we took a major step towards efficient energy grid planning.

8: Tech Giants Dominate Energy Headlines


Some of the largest and most influential companies in the world made major strides towards sustainability in 2015. Companies like Apple and Google have made headlines for being at the forefront of renewable energy initiatives. Both signed agreements to receive a substantial amount of their energy needs from solar and wind projects. In addition to the news about their energy procurement plans, both of these companies have made strides in revolutionizing how Americans use energy in their own homes. Advancements in “smart platforms” like “the nest”, and the “homekit” have set the stage for how all appliances, televisions and air conditioners will be made going forward. All in all the technology giants made quite a few energy news headlines in 2015.

7: U.S. Cities go 100% renewable


In early 2015, it was announced that Costa Rica had developed an energy strategy that had allowed them to sustain their energy grid without an ounce of fossil fuel. This was a major statement to the world that sustainability can be achieved with the proper implementation of resources and strategic planning. 2015 will come to an end with the knowledge that a handful of U.S. cities can boast the fact that they are using 100% renewable energy. Burlington Vermont, Greensburg Kansas, and Aspen Colorado all have transitioned to become 100% green. In addition, Kodiak Island in Alaska (the second largest island in the U.S.) is currently powered by 99.7% wind and hydroelectricity. (not 100%, but pretty close). More and more we are seeing other areas in our country enact plans and initiatives to move towards sustainability. We are sure to see many more going forward, but 2015 will stand as the time when municipalities really started laying the groundwork for change.

6: Natural Gas Overtakes Coal


It was reported in July of this year that natural gas, for the first time ever, supplanted coal as the main fuel source for electric generation plants. This has been a dramatic turn of events considering that back in 2010, coal accounted for almost 45% of generation fuel versus only 20% for natural gas. The closure of many coal plants over the past 18 months, coupled with the glut of cheap natural gas has altered the balance of power for fuel in the U.S. While coal is not disappearing, this is most likely a precursor to the inevitable demise of the coal industry as we know it.

As you have read, these are stories that cover some pretty important topics, and will have a lasting impact on U.S. energy policy, and the American public. Keep an eye out for part two of this article, where we will count down the top five stories that shaped energy in the U.S. for 2015.


Matt Helland


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