Here in Washington D.C., public policy is the city’s bread and butter. It’s what gets people up in the morning, and it’s what drives the never-ending news cycle. On Thursday, April 23, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) held its annual National Renewable Energy Policy Forum, drawing hundreds of industry leaders and policymakers to the nation’s capital to chart the future of America’s energy policy. But given this city’s love of politics, it’s almost strange that ACORE titled this year’s event, Why Policy Matters. Shouldn’t the answer to that questions be obvious?
Think about what’s happening right now. No matter what device you’re using, you got to this blog post by connecting to a data center that was storing its information. The same holds true for every website you visit, every app you use, and all the content you download.
That’s a whole lot of computing power and data stored on some of the most advanced equipment in the world, all of it housed in data centers. And those servers, storage arrays, and networking gear have to be running 24/7.
Declaring a set of ambitious goals, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently released its new Wind Vision Report. The industry’s outline for future energy targets included 10% end use electricity generated by wind power by 2020, 20% by 2030, and 35% by 2050. Wind energy has made great strides in the last couple of years, but given that it currently accounts for 4.5% of all electricity generated in the U.S., how will we get to 35% within 35 years?
Despite the challenges, these goals are achievable, and here are four good reasons why.
Despite its size, one small Scandinavian country is doing big things in regard to its energy policy. Denmark is on track to covering its electricity and heat supply solely with renewable energy by 2035. At the same time, its economic environment is proving itself highly competitive in attracting high-profile investors and multinational corporations like Apple, who are seeking to capitalize on the nation’s business-friendly energy policies. While it may be easy to dismiss Denmark’s remarkable renewable energy market as a fringe example, taking a look at their fruitful national strategy for renewables reveals many lessons that are applicable to the U.S. market—especially for states looking to revise their respective energy policies.
Pending legislation in Indiana could suppress consumer freedoms and potentially quash the state’s solar industry. When the Indiana State House committee voted last month on a bill to reform the interaction between utilities and consumers who utilize solar panels, it set a dangerous precedent for the U.S. renewable industry. The law, which would change net metering policies in the state, essentially removes any incentives for consumers to generate their own energy. In effect, this policy would end any hopes to advance the solar industry in Indiana; a state which has benefitted greatly from net metering.
Investment is the key to 21st century innovation. It is the catalyst for revolutionary technologies in the renewables field and for the energy industry as a whole. This month, the largest ever utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) project in the U.S. will go online. It has been made possible by a government finance program that revolutionized the solar utility market and ultimately established an efficient private financing program for the renewables industry. The project – which represents the pinnacle of the solar energy industry in the US – is the result of this savvy 21st century investment.