Bloomberg Sustainable Energy in America Factbook 2013

May 9, 2015

NOTE: these zingers were originally heard by Frankie on the February 8 2013 WBUR program "Living on Earth" The facts on renewable energy discussed on the program were derived from the publication: Bloomberg New Energy Finance," Sustainable Energy in America Factbook 2013" (January 2013) available at: "Estimated total new investment in US clean energy was $44.2bn in 2012. This amount, which includes investments in most renewable and energy efficiency technologies but excludes natural gas, is well above the $10.4bn figure from 2004, when Bloomberg New Energy Finance first started tracking these investments." "Total US installed capacity of natural gas (442GW) plus renewables (187GW) is now at 629GW (58% of the total power generating mix) – up from 605GW (56%) in 2011 and 548GW (54%) in 2007. Between 2008 and 2012, the US nearly doubled its renewables capacity from 44GW to 86GW (excluding hydropower, which itself is the single largest source of renewable power, at 101GW as of 2012)." "Low natural gas prices can both complement and conflict with other energy sources. For wind power in particular, cheaper gas has made it difficult to compete economically, though the one-year extension of the production Tax Credit in 2013 has strengthened the business case for wind in the short term." "Energy efficiency is making its mark on the grid and on buildings. Since 1980, energy intensity of commercial buildings has decreased by over 40%, propelled by increasingly sophisticated approaches to financing for energy efficiency retrofits, as well as by standards, such as those that apply to heating and cooling units and to thermal performance." "The levelized costs of electricity for renewable technologies have plummeted. For example, the cost of electricity generated by average large solar power plants has fallen from $0.31 per kilowatt-hour in 2009 to $0.14 per kilowatt-hour in 2012, according to our global benchmarking analysis based on already financed projects from around the world. (These figures exclude the effect of tax credits and other incentives, which would bring those costs down even lower.) Over the same period, the cost of power from a typical large wind farm has fallen from $0.09 in 2009 to $0.08 per kilowatt-hour. " "One winner from all of these developments is US air quality. Reduced air pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases are a welcome consequence of the changes underway in the country's energy mix. The reductions in coal generation, ascendancy of gas, influx of renewables, expansion of CHP and other distributed power forms, adoption of demand-side efficiency technologies, rise of dispatchable demand response, and deployment of advanced vehicles are all contributing to the decline in carbon emissions from the energy sector (including transport), which peaked in 2007 at 6.02Gt and have dropped by an estimated 13% since. They are now at their lowest level since 1994." SUN: "Solar manufacturers are facing massive overcapacity. There is 55-56GW of cell and module manufacturing capacity globally, but not all of that capacity is utilized; about 38GW was likely manufactured in 2012 compared with global demand for PV modules of 28.3-32.1GW (Figure 29). Oversupply is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. PV manufacturing in the US has been hit especially hard. Domestic module manufacturers. market share fell from 23% in 2009 to 9% in 2011, partly due to price competition from overseas." WIND: "2012 was a record year for wind build in the US with 13.2GW of capacity commissioned...the sector has grown thanks to the decline in the cost of wind energy; with the help of incentives, this has led to extremely cheap long-term power contracts in states such as Oklahoma and Kansas. " WASTE-TO-ENERGY: "The US currently only recovers 13% of its waste energy content – compared with northern European countries that recover approximately 40% on average. The last 15 years have been problematic for the US waste-to-energy industry. The number of waste-to-energy plants has decreased substantially from roughly 180 facilities in the 1980s to about 90 today."


Bloomberg New Energy Finance," Sustainable Energy in America Factbook 2013" (January 2013) available at: [verified 4/17/14]

Please reload