Project Development, Wind Power

ACRE Conference: Taking RE to the Mainstream

It was a who’s who in Renewable Energy at the organizing conference of the American Council for Renewable Energy (ACRE), which took place in Washington D.C. on July 10 and 11. An enthusiastic group of Renewable Energy insiders as well as newcomers interested in the promise of renewable technologies convened at this event to find common ground for the diverse group of technologies represented.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 16, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The goal set out by this new organization is as simple as it is daunting: taking Renewable Energy into the mainstream of America¹s economy and lifestyle. The challenge of the meeting, set out by the leadership of ACRE prior to the meeting and reiterated by speakers on every subject from finance to government policy to marketing and communications, was to come up with a common vision for the overall Renewable Energy industry. The newly formed organization intends to take that vision to policy makers, energy regulators, as well as the general public, with the aim of convincing each group that Renewable Energy technologies are ready to be a substantial contributor to the U.S. energy market able to compete with traditional energy sources on an economic basis. While much of the discussion was focused around creating incentives for new Renewable Energy technologies through the introduction of Federal Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) as well as extending the Production Tax Credits (PTC), which Wind Power is currently enjoying, to all forms of Renewable Energy, many of the speakers pointed to examples where Renewable Energy is competing with and beating fossil fuel energy sources on an economic basis today. The interest in the conference was particularly strong from the financial community which was represented by several venture capital firms, including Nth Power, Perseus Capital and Winslow Management, as well a leading clean energy analyst at Merrill Lynch. Renewable Energy project finance was represented by the presence of GE Capital. The investment community participants reiterated the need for continued and even enhanced R&D funding from the government for promising Renewable Energy technologies. Stronger R&D funding combined with RPS and PTC, they argued, would lead to increased opportunity for early stage financing from venture capital firms and facilitate increased financing of large scale Renewable Energy projects. However, even with new incentives in place, ultimately the price of technologies was a key factor for stimulating continued strong growth in this sector of the energy market. Keynote speeches from long term leaders in Renewable Energy in the US as well as Europe, kept the capacity crowd on the edge of their seats for two days and made for lively discussions during the networking breaks. Amory Lovins, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute and Hermann Scheer, a Member of the German Bundestag, presented very compelling visions of the opposition that Renewable Energy has to still overcome to be able to come into the mainstream of the American economy and lifestyle. They also spoke very eloquently of the many benefits that Renewable Energy can offer to, the public as well as also to investors. Ultimately, one presenter summed up the perspective of many of the participants when he stated this: Renewable Energy = Economic Growth.