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US on track to double clean energy capacity

US Govt. stimulus can boost clean energy capacity by over 32%: EIA

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The Recovery Act of 2009 was enacted by the Obama administration to invest in clean energy projects as well as other parts of the US economy. (GETTY)
The Recovery Act of 2009 was enacted by the Obama administration to invest in clean energy projects as well as other parts of the US economy. (GETTY)

The US is making significant progress toward attaining its goal of doubling renewable generation capacity over the next two years, due in large part to support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) introduced in 2009, according to a newly released report.

The report entitled "ARRA Report Card: Two Years Later" published by market research firm SBI Energy finds that ARRA investments are funding research projects to develop next generation renewable energy technologies, such as solar thin films and new wind turbine designs that will create a cost competitive alternative to electricity currently generated from coal or natural gas power plants while simultaneously creating long-term economic market growth.

The report find that aided by ARRA investments, The Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) reports that domestic manufacturing capacity for solar photovoltaic (PV) modules is forecasted to grow from less than 1 gigawatt (GW) per year in 2008 to nearly 4 GW per year in 2012.

These investments are accelerating the rate of innovation in solar photovoltaics and according to the CEA, the new technology will drive down the costs of solar panels over the next five years; possibly by 50%.

US wind power capacity grew 40% in 2009 over the prior year, despite weak economic and investment conditions. In July 2010, the CEA reported that ARRA was responsible for approximately 6 GW of wind capacity installation that
might not otherwise have occurred in 2009. 

US manufacturing capacity for components such as gearboxes, generators, and large casted steel parts, has lagged behind actual demand, the report found. The 48C Manufacturing Tax Credit programme awarded US$346 million in tax credits to 52 wind manufacturing projects to facilitate additional US manufacturing capacity to ensure the US is able to supply a growing domestic market through domestic production.

An April 2010 US Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) survey indicated a 26% increase in new projects under development in 2009 and concludes that the stimulus funding played an important role in propelling geothermal growth amidst recessionary economic conditions.

Overall, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that US renewable generation capacity will increase 32% more than without ARRA support—reaching 155 GW in 2015. Two years after the enactment of ARRA, indications are strong that the Recovery Act is aiding the US in attaining its goal of doubling renewable generation capacity in the next two years.

The "ARRA Energy Report Card: Two Years Later" examines the ARRA clean energy investments and their impact on the various clean energy markets within the power, transportation, and building sectors. The report presents the ARRA direct investments, segmented by sector and clean energy market, and provides details with regard to cross-sector energy-related ARRA investments and tax incentives. A summary of the clean energy markets within each sector likely to be impacted by ARRA energy investments is presented, along with obligations to date, and potential impact and estimated market size to 2015.

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