Published on February 7th, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill9
Renewables, Natural Gas, and Efficiency Leading American Energy Transformation
Bloomberg New Energy Finance has released their 2014 installment of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook for The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and found that renewable energy, natural gas, and energy efficiency advancements are leading a transformation of America’s energy systems.
While there have been political shifts to and from over the past year, this latest Factbook only adds to the data showing the need and value of transitioning to cleaner and more energy efficient systems, while increasing the data documenting the long-term trend towards the same.
“The U.S. energy transformation that began in the mid-2000s gained additional momentum in 2013,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of The Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “The Factbook plays a vital role in chronicling this fast-moving transformation, which is creating whole new industries and thousands of new jobs in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors.”
According to the Factbook research, renewable energy provided 13% of US electricity generation across 2013, while simultaneously reaching all-time lows in costs, allowing renewable energy technologies to be cheaper than fossil fuel electricity in some parts of the US. According to BNEF, however, “small , distributed generators and off-grid installations, meanwhile, began to emerge as a transformative force in the power industry.”
“The changes unfolding in the US energy industry have been profound and, by the typical time scale of the industry, abrupt,” said Michel Di Capua, Head of North American Analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “The effects of these changes will be felt in seemingly every nook and cranny of the American economy, from military bases to manufacturing plants, from homes to highways. 2013 saw some detours from the long-term trends, but overall, it is clear that the long-term transformation of how the US produces and consumes energy continues.”
Energy efficiency financing and natural gas production and consumption have all boomed over the last year. Energy efficiency spending by energy service companies and electric and gas utilities totaled more than $12 billion in 2012 while 31 states and the District of Columbia, representing 77 percent of the U.S. population, have legislation in place to enable the financing of energy efficiency via property-assessed clean energy programs (PACE). Natural gas investment reached $15 billion for the midstream.
The need for clear energy policy in Washington was also made abruptly clear in 2013, thanks to the chaos surrounding the late extension of the wind Production Tax Credit. The wind industry only installed 600 MW in 2013, a massive drop from the record 13.8 GW it installed in 2012, and the root of the problem can be traced back to the uncertainty surrounding the PTC. Conversely, the solar tax credits did not require renewal in 2013, allowing the industry to make a clear 50% increase in cumulative solar installations.
“We urge legislators and policy makers to clarify and stabilize clean energy policies both at the federal and state levels in order to accelerate America’s energy transformation,” Jacobson added. “Clean energy technologies have made major gains in the last five years, and further growth will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve our energy security and strengthen the U.S. economy.”