Thanks to the stimulus package, the US is on track to meet President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling renewable energy generation and capacity by 2012.
More than $23 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more commonly known as the Recovery Act or economic stimulus package, is devoted toward renewable energy investments. The plan is to double capacity from the 28.8GW of solar, wind and geothermal generation installed in the US as of 2008 to 57.6GW by the end of 2011, which would produce enough capacity to power 16.7 million homes, according to a report from the office of the Vice-President Joe Biden on Recovery Act investments released this week.
Achieving this goal would have been impossible without the Recovery Act funds because it means installing as much renewable energy capacity in the next three years as the US did over the previous 30 years, according to the report. The Section 1603 Treasury grant programme has been a major factor, awarding more than $5.2 billion to renewable energy projects as of press time.
The US is also on pace to double manufacturing capacity from an annual output of 6GW of renewable equipment such as wind turbines and solar panels, to 12GW by the end of 2011, partly because of the Section 48c programme that provided $2.3 billion in tax credits to 183 clean energy manufacturing projects.
Partly thanks to the Recovery Act funds, the US is on track to cut the cost of solar power in half by 2015, according to the report. The cost of power from utility-scale solar projects will drop from $0.13 per kWh today to $0.06 in 2015, which is equivalent to the cost of wholesale utility power. The cost of power from rooftop solar panels will drop from $0.21 per kWh in 2009 to $0.10 per kWh in 2015, which is equivalent to typical household electricity rates. Prices could drop as low as $0.06 per kWh by 2030, saving the average household more than $400 per year.
The US is also on course to cut the cost of batteries for electric vehicles by 70% between 2009 and 2015, which will make the cars more affordable and cost competitive with non-electric vehicles, according to the report.
In 2009, the US had two factories manufacturing batteries to power electric vehicles and produced less than 2% of the world’s advanced vehicle batteries. But with Recovery Act investments of more than $2 billion, 30 factories with the capacity to produce an estimated 20% of the world’s advanced vehicle batteries will be located in the US by 2012.
By. Gloria Gonzalez