Look Towards A New Future

Aug 11, 2010

Renewable Energy in the US: Policy, Investment, Capacity, Growth and Outlook now available at ReportsandReports

Dallas, TX: ReportsandReports announce it will carry Renewable Energy in the US: Policy, Investment, Capacity, Growth and Outlook Market Research Report in its Store.

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Following more than a year of global financial crisis and economic downturn, the growth and expansion of the US renewable power industry is testament to the inherent attractiveness and resilience of the sector. Renewables will continue to be the bright spot of the US economy in 2010, given that the drivers that propelled the sector for the past five years are still at work.


  • Data and analysis of installed capacities and generation across all sources of renewable energies in the US, at a national level and by state.
  • A detailed identification of the key drivers and barriers shaping these markets, and the likely growth potential of each renewable technology.
  • A detailed examination of new technology introductions and innovations, and future areas of opportunity for manufacturers and power providers.
  • Up to date competitive intelligence on key players operating across all renewable energy technologies, nascent and established, across the US.


The economic and financial crisis should have dealt a devastating blow to the renewables industry. Private investment in 2009 declined dramatically but was buttressed by record levels of public funds. These must now play a catalytic role in supporting capital market solutions to permanently secure the financing options needed by the industry.

The market is almost nearly entirely supported by public policy. The vast and growing number and types of government, utility and non-profit financial incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency in the US help explain growth levels in these markets. Production tax credits and renewable portfolio standards are key market drivers.

Not all renewable energy technologies are equal or offer the same growth prospects in the US. Solar is likely to live in the shadow of wind energy for several years to come, while hydropower, biomass and geothermal make modest inroads into the wider US energy market. The outlook for nascent wave and tidal energy markets will gradually improve.

Reasons to Purchase

  • Determine how different elements of US legislation and market trends are influencing the development of all renewable energy markets.
  • Assess how the renewable energy capacity mix will evolve, what the key opportunities will be and which states offer the greatest potential and why.
  • Understand how renewable energy asset strategies are likely to evolve and how and where your company should interact with renewables in the US.

Table of Content



Executive summary



Table of Contents

Table of figures

US power market and related political developments

Power landscape

Weak economic activity and reduced demand for cooling led to a 0.9% decrease in power demand in 2008 versus a 2.3% increase in 2007

Power generation in the US is currently dominated by coal-burn,even though the installed capacity of gas generation is greater than coal

2008 US power generation snapshot: conventional generation is dominated by coal,natural gas and nuclear power generation

Renewable power overview

Renewable energy generation output since 1996 is characterized by a decline in hydro output,offset by sustained increases in wind

2008 US power generation snapshot: growth of renewable power generation is driven mainly by wind power

Growth in wind power generation has outpaced that of all other forms of generation,albeit from a very low initial installed base

Gas installed capacity in the US is greater than coal,yet coal power generation is much larger than gas power generation

Utility power plants account for the majority of electric installed capacity in the US

Power generation in 2008:

Net capacity additions of wind power in the US are outstripping net additions of gas capacity

Coal,petroleum and nuclear installed capacities have declined since 1997; renewables,gas,and other sources make up the total net addition

The US is a global leader in wind,biomass and geothermal power installed capacity and ranks first for new capacity investments

Despite the economic downturn in 2008,the average retail price for all US customers increased in 47 out of the 50 states

Despite decreases in retail power volumes in 2008,revenues actually increased,driven by higher power prices

Fossil fuel prices showed significant volatility during 2008,which contributed to an increase in average retail electricity prices

Estimated US power plant emissions were down in 2008,due to decreased fuel consumption

Drivers of renewable power

Growth in renewable energy generation in the US is spurred on by a range of federal,state-based and local incentives

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Renewable energy and energy efficiency investments in the US are underpinned by a wide range of sub-national financial incentives

Renewable energy and energy efficiency investments in the US are underpinned by a wide range of state climate regulations

The production tax credit is often considered as the main driver of renewable power generation growth in the US over the past decade

Renewable portfolio standards have been most successful at stimulating new renewables when deployed alongside the PTC

Public support for action on climate change is variable but an overall upwards trend has emerged over the last decade

Resilient venture capital levels are a strong growth driver for the wider cleantech industry

The US American Power Act presents significant incentives for companies operating across the renewable energy value chain

In stark contrast to the previous administration,the new Democrat administration has placed green at the heart of its political agenda

The US has embarked on a program to develop renewable energy projects in the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf

Resistors of renewable power

Forces driving the current growth of the US renewables industry are being met by sizable opposing forces

Failure to price CO2 emissions

Licensing and environmental issues also present significant barriers to the uptake of renewable energy technologies

Licensing and permitting issues

Environmental issues

Renewable generation in the US has thus far been punctuated by ‘stop-start’ investment under the PTC

Investment in US renewables remain contingent on federal PTC policy continuity

Ensuring renewable energy access to existing and new transmission infrastructure is another imperative in the US

Ensuring renewable energy access to existing and new transmission infrastructure is another imperative in the US

The 2009 economic and financial crisis should have dealt a devastating blow to the US renewables industry

Despite the economic and financial crisis,renewable investment dipped only slightly,supported by massive public spending

US wind power market

Current scenario

The US wind energy market installed nearly 10GW in 2009,maintaining its global leadership in installed capacity

Global wind power has been very resilient in the face of the global recession and financial crisis,but the future is less certain

Wind farm projects,both new build and M&A,are front-loaded and capital intensive

Project lifetimes,coupled with discount rates,have a significant influence over the annual costs of wind power generation

The cost of capital,reflected in the discount or interest rate,has a high degree of influence on wind turbine development costs

The 2009 economic and financial crisis presented a significant challenge for the US wind industry

The US wind industry boom continued during 2009 despite the economic and financial crisis,supported by vast public spending

The world’s wind industry defied the economic downturn and saw its power capacity increase by close to one third in 2009

Texas,once known as an oil and gas-producing state,has become the nation’s top producer of wind energy

GE Energy is the largest turbine supplier,NextEra the largest overall wind owner and Xcel Energy the largest utility wind owner

Drivers of the wind power market

The factors that drive the development of the US renewables energy industry also drive the uptake of wind power energy

Over the last 20 years,the cost of wind turbines has fallen dramatically while their efficiency has improved significantly

From a meteorological perspective,US wind power potential is tremendous and is greatest in the Great Plains region

Resistors of the wind power market

Forces driving the current growth of wind power in the US are being met by significant opposing forces

Failure to price CO2 emissions

Environmental issues and policy limitations also act as a barrier for the growing wind power industry in the US

Environmental issues

Policy limitations

Transmission constraints-planning,paying and permitting-form one of the most sizable barriers facing the US wind industry

Outlook for the wind power market

The outlook for wind energy in the US is cautiously optimistic despite possible manufacturing and project bottlenecks

Wind energy will continue to be a bright spot of the US economy in 2010 but public finance must power private capital investment

US solar power market

Current scenario

The solar industry relies on two different forms of technology to convert sunlight into electricity

Long derided as uneconomic,the nascent solar PV market is gaining significant ground thanks to its strong green credentials

Following phenomenal growth in 2008,2009 was a year of more modest growth for the global solar PV power market

The US solar industry maintained its impressive growth rate in 2009 despite slowdown in the housing and construction sectors

In 2009,California retained its leading position as the US state with the highest level of installed solar PV capacity

Throughout the years US solar energy consumption was almost exclusively used for residential energy purposes

The number of US firms involved in the solar energy supply chain has steadily risen and is projected to grow further

Although solar export markets are growing,the US home solar sector is losing market share to manufacturers from abroad

US utilities are beginning to expand their asset base in the solar energy market

In the US,First Solar is the top PV manufacturer and crystalline silicon is the most widespread form of PV technology

PV deployment will not be limited by suitable land area availability; CSP,however,has the most opportunity in the Southwest

The PV market is divided into four market sectors on the demand side

Solar manufacturers,rather than established energy companies,are exploiting opportunities presented by the fast-expanding market

With new companies and fresh markets wrestling for prominence,strong industry consolidation and vertical integration are expected

For utilities,the horizontal integration of fixed-cost solar assets presents an unhedged yet comparatively safe business model

Utilities could quickly become the largest and one of the most important customers for the solar industry

Solar will increasingly form part of utilities’ horizontally integrated renewable operations,with upstream benefits but barriers downstream

Drivers of the solar power market

Much like other renewable energy sectors,the US solar energy sector is supported by federal legislation

State level grants and incentives are the primary driver for continued growth of the solar energy market in the US

Other economic and financial benefits also attract growing numbers of private investors

Resistors of the solar power market

Several economic barriers may hamper further solar energy growth

Solar power is still comparatively expensive and,for the moment,remains more expensive than most competing technologies

For solar power generation,true grid parity depends upon the evolution of solar power costs,carbon costs and power prices

Outlook for the solar power market

Having developed at a rapid pace,solar now faces key challenges,many of which will be offset by even larger opportunities

Growth of the US solar market is on the cusp of step change

US hydro power market

Current scenario

Hydropower is a clean and renewable energy source,but it is not without problems

Hydropower capacity in the US remained constant between 2000 and 2008

Total installed hydro power capacity in the US is second only to China,but Canada and Brazil are quickly catching up

US West Coast states lead in terms of installed conventional hydroelectric capacity

Renewable energies in the US are growing but conventional hydro capacity has remained flat

Renewable energies and natural gas are racing to fill the generation gap as coal recedes,but hydropower remains flat

Total net power generation in the US in January 2010 was slightly higher than in January 2009

Monthly net generation from hydro power fell significantly on the West Coast in January 2010

Despite having the world’s second largest hydropower asset base,the US only ranks fourth in terms of hydroelectric consumption,trailing China,Canada and Brazil

Utilities,independent power producers and industrial self-generators are the three key hydropower generators in the US

Drivers of the hydro power market

Existing hydropower has low operating costs and new hydropower is among the least expensive forms of low-carbon electricity

Legislation as well as licensing and financing rules are changing the hydropower landscape in the US

Energy Policy Act of 2005

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009

Resistors of the hydro power market

The obstacles to the further development and deployment of hydropower are significant

Outlook for the hydro power market

The nature of global hydropower is changing

Growth opportunities for the US hydropower industry are the best they have been for the past three decades

US geothermal power market

Current scenario

Geothermal energy is a clean,renewable and limitless source of energy supply

Four types of geothermal power plants are currently in operation for commercial use

A variety of technologies have emerged to adapt geothermal energy plants to specific geological conditions

Following eight years of stagnation,installed geothermal capacity in the US has recently risen

Electricity net generation from geothermal energy has remained stable in relation to other renewable energies

The geothermal energy sector is dominated by independent power producers that have specialist knowledge and skills

The US holds a world leading position in geothermal energy capacity

Geothermal heat is used in many different non-power generating applications across the US

Drivers of the geothermal power market

Geothermal capital costs can be among the lowest of all forms of renewable power generation

State renewable standards coupled to federal stimulus and tax incentives will stimulate growth in the geothermal power industry

Resistors of the geothermal power market

Barriers to the expansion of the geothermal industry can be of a financial,geological or environmental nature

Outlook for the geothermal power market

Geothermal power opportunities may exist in regions and applications thus far largely underexploited by the industry

Geothermal resources have the potential to play a much more significant role in the US’ energy mix

Environmental benefits and technological progress could pave the way for increasing geothermal energy production

US biomass power market

Current scenario

Biomass power generation is derived from a variety of organic fuels

In the US,waste-to-energy combustion and landfill gas are by-products of the municipal solid waste industry

Biomass power generation systems include direct and co-firing plants as well as gasification and pyrolysis processes

Biomass power generation often capitalizes on the anaerobic digestion of waste and the modularization of systems

Bioenergy accounts for roughly 9.5% of the total renewable capacity and around 1.1% of the overall capacity in the US

Biomass is a major source of energy in emerging economies,but biogas is predominantly used in developed countries

California,Florida,Maine and Virginia lead the way in terms of installed biomass power capacity in the US

Co-firing of biomass and coal is used across the US although the highest potential lies on the east coast

US net power generation from biomass energy has remained relatively stable over recent years

Drivers of the biomass power market

Vast and varied biomass resources exist across the US

Resistors of the biomass power market

Supply chain technologies and comparative economics act as the main barriers to greater biomass utilization

Outlook for the geothermal power market

Biomass energy will grow on the back of the wide range of environmental,agricultural and national benefits it provides

Advanced genetic and agricultural engineering will help to increase and optimize the availability of biomass resources

Large commercial opportunities may arise from the latest plans to increase the use of biomass thermal energy

The industry is poised for growth with support from an appropriate mix of R&D,public policies and market pull

US ocean power market

Current scenario

Ocean energy is a nascent market eager to replicate the success of the global wind power industry

The coastal stretches of Alaska harbor by far the greatest ocean energy resource potentials

The energy extraction potential of ocean power in the US is dwarfed by the country’s tremendous offshore wind potential

Several sites for ocean power projects have been suggested along the US northeast coast,where RPSs play a vital role

Tidal power is slightly more advanced elsewhere but pilot projects are now also being launched in the US

Interest in US ocean energy is now steadily growing

Major tidal current resources in the US are found along all coastal areas as well as around Hawaii and the Pacific islands

Verdant Power’s Free Flow tidal power technology is the first project to be nearing commercialization in the US

The Ocean Renewable Power Company is developing the first tidal turbine generator unit

The Ocean Power Technology Company is developing its Powerbuoy wave power device

The Pelamis Waver Power company operates the world’s first commercial wave power project

European countries made the first attempts to establish wave power technology as a serious alternative with a credible future

Ocean thermal energy conversion is the least well known form of ocean power generation technology

The UK is currently leading efforts to develop and establish ocean power projects

Opportunities for synergies exist between regulatory agencies,industry trade groups,utilities and renewable technology manufacturers

Drivers of the ocean power market

Several new federal statutes have been introduced that will benefit the ocean energy industry

Federal legislation

State legislation and financiers may further drive the ocean energy industry in the near future

State legislation

Private and corporate finance

Resistors of the ocean power market

Operational limitations

Wave power is mostly,but not always,available under low speed,high force,multi-direction wave conditions

A clearer picture needs to emerge as to the true potential of ocean energy power

Legislative limitations

Environmental and resource limitations

Financial limitations

The outlook for the ocean power industry will improve,as it learns from the wind and solar industries and from developments abroad



Ask the analyst

Datamonitor consulting


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