U.S. Renewable Energy Industry Ready to Step Up

Joanna Schroeder

A new goal was announced during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing this week to double renewable energy in the 21 member economies by 2030. The renewable energy industry collectively came out and said they are ready to do their part. This new goal was a follow-up to last year’s commitment to encourage technology transfer and efforts to lower costs and attract private investment to the renewable energy industry.

“We appreciate the leadership that President Obama and the rest of these world leaders are showing on the critical task of rapidly scaling up low-carbon energy sources,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Here in America, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Vision for the growth of our industry, we can quadruple wind power by 2030 and save consumers money doing it, if policymakers keep supporting state renewable standards and federal tax incentives to attract the necessary private investment.”

Linda Church Ciocci, executive director, National Hydropower Association said on behalf of the hydro electric industry, “Hydropower is poised for growth and ready to meet America’s renewable energy goals. From powering the 97 percent of the nation’s dams that remain unpowered to upgrading our existing facilities, opportunities exist to double hydropower’s contribution to the electricity grid, while strengthening our economy and providing more Americans access to clean, low-cost electricity.”

“GEA applauds the APEC goal of doubling renewable power,” added Karl Gawell, executive director, Geothermal Energy Association. “New geothermal power development underway in the U.S. and nearly all of the APEC countries will provide more than electricity, building thousands of megawatts of new geothermal power will spur economic growth, create new jobs and ensure environmental health for future generations.”

The highlight of the summit was a surprise negotiated emissions deal between the U.S. and China to curb climate change. The deal includes new targets for the U.S. and China to stop emission growth by 2030 and to create momentum around climate talks leading into the global climate conference taking place in Paris in 2015.

Other industry comments to the news included support from the biomass power industry. “The American biomass industry has experienced tremendous growth over the past couple of years and, with supportive policies, there is potential for much more,” said Bob Cleaves, president of the Biomass Power Association. “The 2014 National Climate Assessment indicated that biomass sources could offset up to 30 percent of U.S. petroleum consumption. Setting ambitious yet achievable goals is a good way to ensure that biomass potential is realized.”

“The Energy Recovery Council applauds today’s commitment to dramatically increasing renewable energy worldwide,” added Ted Michaels, president, Energy Recovery Council. “Waste-to-energy is a critical greenhouse gas mitigation tool with significant potential for further deployment in the U.S. Every ton of municipal solid waste processed at a waste-to-energy reduces lifecycle emissions by one ton of carbon dioxide equivalents, through offsetting fossil fuels, avoiding methane from landfills, and recovering metals for recycling.”

The solar industry is also on board to help meet the global climate goals but notes that federal policies will be critical to success. “Smart, effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), are paying huge dividends for America,” said Solar Energy Industry Association President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Solar installations this year will be 70 times higher than they were in 2006 when the ITC went into effect. The price to install a solar rooftop system has been cut in half, while utility systems have dropped by 70 percent. It took the U.S. solar industry 40 years to install the first 20 GW of solar, but we’re going to install the next 20 GW in the next two years. That’s remarkable growth.”

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