The evidence indicates that government investments have significantly helped the US renewable energy market. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 provided $94.8 billion for clean energy. The program was established under section 1603 of ARRA, and provided cash grants covering 10% or 30% of the total cost of developing new renewable energy facilities.
ARRA investments also funded research projects to develop next generation renewable energy technologies. These types of innovations create a cost competitive alternative to dirty sources of electricity while simultaneously creating long-term economic growth.
Due in large part to ARRA, the renewable energy industry survived the worst financial crisis in decades and is making significant progress toward attaining its goal of doubling renewable generation capacity over two years.
According to Gisela Kroess, a director at UniCredit SpA (UCG.MI), “[ARRA incentives have] spurred a lot of the growth we’ve seen,” she said at a renewable-energy finance conference.
Despite Republican opposition, the US Department of the Treasury’s 1603 cash grant program for the solar and wind industries was extended through 2011 as an add-on to the 2010 Tax Relief bill. The extension provides incentives so that developers of new solar and wind farms will continue investing in new projects beyond those already slated for construction.
ARRA Report Card: Two Years Later, is the latest industry study from market research publisher SBI Energy, it examines the ARRA clean energy investments and their impact on the various clean energy markets within the power, transportation, and building sectors.
The report card indicates that according to forecasts from the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), ARRA investments will help the domestic manufacturing capacity for solar photovoltaic (PV) modules to grow from less than 1 GW per year in 2008 to nearly 4 GW per year in 2012. Solar EnergyARRA investments are also accelerating the rate of innovation in solar photovoltaics and will drive down the costs of solar panels over the next five years by as much as 50 percent. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, ARRA has supported more than 1,100 solar projects in 42 states, creating enough new solar capacity to power 200,000 homes. ARRA has resulted in nearly 40 percent growth in the solar power market in 2009 and nearly double in 2010.
Despite weak economic and investment conditions, US wind power capacity grew 40 percent in 2009 compared to 2008. In July 2010, the CEA reported that ARRA was responsible for approximately 6 GW of wind capacity installation that might not otherwise have occurred in 2009.
An April 2010 U.S. Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) survey indicated a 26% increase in new projects under development in 2009 and concludes that the stimulus funding played an important role in propelling geothermal growth amidst recessionary economic conditions.
Combined Renewable Energy
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that US renewable generation capacity will increase 32 percent more than without ARRA, reaching 155 GW in 2015.
The results of this report card clearly indicate that government investment has significantly increased America’s renewable generation capacity.
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