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Renewable Energy Vision
Expert analysis on the most pressing issues facing the renewable energy sector in the U.S and abroad from ACORE staff, members and supporters.

The Outlook for Renewable Energy

Published on 03 Apr 2014  |   Written by    |  

Renewable energy has now become a technology of choice for many Americans, accounting for nearly 40% of all new, domestic power capacity installed in 2013. Presently, renewable power capacity exceeds 190 GW, biofuels are responsible for roughly 10% of our nation’s fuel supply, and renewable thermal energy systems heat and cool a growing number of homes, businesses, public buildings, and other structures throughout the country. The array of technologies are either fully or increasingly cost-competitive with conventional energy sources, and costs continue to fall. Per Bloomberg New Energy Finance, private sector investment in the U.S. clean energy sector surpassed $100 billion in 2012-2013, stimulating economic development while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs. This impressive growth of renewable energy is a signal that, when certain, state and federal policies have worked.

According to ACORE’s new report The Outlook for Renewable Energy: 2014, this growth is expected to continue, driven by increasing cost-competitiveness with conventional generation, technology advancements, and growing acceptance by Americans to embrace clean and renewable technologies:

  • The wind industry remains on schedule to grow to supply 20% of the U.S. power grid by 2030, with the first offshore projects expected to come online.
  • Solar will see 26% growth in 2014, with installations reaching nearly 6 GW, and possibly 10 GW in 2016.
  • The U.S. will continue to be a world leader for geothermal development, with 2.5 GW of projects currently under development.
  • The hydropower industry will see significant activity over the next five years, with a number of proposed hydropower projects in the FERC pipeline at various stages of the regulatory process.
  • Additional marine and hydrokinetic demonstration projects will be brought online as developers aim to reduce their costs.
  • Development of biomass and waste energy facilities will continue throughout the country, especially in the Southeast and Northeast where feedstocks are plentiful.
  • Production from advanced and cellulosic biofuels facilities will increase as more commercial-scale plants are brought online and production costs continue to decline.

Further scale up requires evolving and cost-effective policies that drive continued private-sector investment. We should promote the expansion of all proven forms of renewable energy, whether centralized or distributed power generation, transportation fuels, thermal energy, or other technologies. America needs a diverse array of options to transform its energy sector to meet 21st century needs.

With the right policy mechanisms in place, the potential of America’s clean energy economy extends beyond one fuel choice or pipeline, and provides the country with an unparalleled opportunity to reinvigorate our economy while protecting our environment. An America powered on renewable power, fuels, and thermal energy is a stronger, more secure, prosperous and cleaner America.

To learn more about what’s in store for wind, solar, biomass, biofuels, waste, ocean, hydro, and geothermal energy, read ACORE’s new report: The Outlook for Renewable Energy: 2014.

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