Published on February 7th, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill


Renewables, Natural Gas, and Efficiency Leading American Energy Transformation

February 7th, 2014 by  

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.”

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  • Matt

    Yes, make the policy clear.
    -Cut ethanol support this was never a energy plan. It was always about large farm corps.
    -Cut ALL fossil fuel support
    -Renew PTC to 2020 then ramp down over 5 years.
    -Convert PV tax credit to cash payment, allows non-profits, community to partake. Run to 2020 then ramp down over 5 years.
    -Start a First Fuel Fund to push efficiency in the country.
    -Push for a national LEED implementation. Think if every tax zone make the following change to building codes.
    For new buildings
    – If LEED Platinum get 10% tax break on property for 10 years.
    – If LEED Silver 10% increase on property tax for 10 years
    – If less that LEED Silver then 15% increase on property tax for 10 years.

    • johnBas5

      Aren’t the savings and the resulting extra money in buildings a reward on itself? If capitalism is an actual thing, shouldn’t that work on itself?

      Don’t use tax breaks for buildings, get national insulation standards for building codes implemented.

      You could also just put in the building codes good isolation and accommodations for potential future heat pump installation. Even if you don’t install a heat pump, it becomes easier to install one later.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Capitalism is a dull tool. Short term savings/gains will often override long term savings/gain.

        Building projects often have a upper budget limit. When something needs to be cut the things dropped may not be the non-functional decorative parts but building efficiency.

        Cut out geothermal heating/cooling. Save several thousand and bring the project in on number. The cost of extra energy to heat/cool will fall on someone else.

        Tax breaks for efficient buildings may twist your conservative bloomers. But consider the $1 billion in tax dollars being spend every single day, all year long, year after year after year in order to offset coal damage.
        Doesn’t it make sense to you to invest some money now in order to cut back on our coal use and save some of that billion per day?

        • johnBas5

          Exactly why would we use such a non functional, inefficient system when the right answer can be figured out up front and save a lot of money and time. Why would we want people to hurt themselves?

          Handicapped people get social security, how about we actually try to make things work out for everyone by guiding the right decision.

          • Bob_Wallace

            In the US there is a constant battle between using governmental powers to make things better and blocking the government from messing with our freedum.

            A number of people are stocking up on incandescent bulbs and will spend 15x to 20x more to light their houses rather than letting the guvment steer them toward saving money.

          • johnBas5

            That is a different issue since the upfront price is much higher.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Light bulbs?

            There’s very little difference in cost between CFLs and incandescents.

          • johnBas5

            It is about the consumer perception. And I meant a comparison between incandescents and LEDS since CFLs have other drawbacks.

            And looking at relative cost differences compared to alternatives.
            The cost difference in % of a house with or without some isolation is smaller than the cost difference in % between an incandescent and a LED bulb.

      • Matt

        We give tax breaks for things that hurt the country. Look at the amount we give to oil/gas/coal every year. Most written as special treatment so that it is hidden and never needs renewing. We give coal generators a monopoly and let them fix returns. We them store coal ask in large open ponds, which then spill and “kill” rivers for years. We let Walmart keep the taxes it collects so it gets a unfair advantage over smaller stores. There is no free market! So why should the the rules be set to in favor of doing the right thing. Yes it would be better to change building code to be all new homes must be net zero, and all other building at least LEED Platinum but I know someone would have said, not fair your making people do the right thing. You should let them pick how smart they want to be. The above doesn’t force you to do the right thing only give market signals that it is the correct thing to do.

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