The Outlook for Renewable Energy in 2003

RE Outlook 2003 – The outlook for Renewable Energy in the U.S. and around the world is bullish as we enter 2003.

RE Outlook 2003 – January 22, 2003 – The outlook for Renewable Energy in the U.S. and around the world is bullish as we enter 2003. Many of the economic, financial, cultural and local political trends in the U.S. are trending in favor of Renewable Energy, and we are gradually winning in the marketplace where it counts. The economics are increasingly in our favor. The costs of military-protected oil supplies, market-stable natural gas supplies, environmentally-acceptable coal, and socially-acceptable nuclear power are all going up. Meanwhile, the costs of Renewable Energy keep going down. ·Wind power should have a strong year of production and new installations in 2003, supported by scaling up of the equipment and declining costs, state-level renewable portfolio standards (RPS), extension of the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), and numerous green power and green pricing programs. ·Solar PV is experiencing rapid market growth in California and other western states where incentives are in place and the environmental ethic is strong. There is growth in residential rooftop PV, commercial rooftop PV, building integrated PV, and off-grid applications. ·Hydropower should come out of a drought-related slump in 2001 to produce more power in 2003, and the outlook is brightening for hydropower capacity expansions with improved re-licensing rules pending at FERC. ·Geothermal energy is seeing a new surge in production and new installations in the West in response to RPS requirements. ·Biomass for power generation should increase in 2003 as more utility companies are looking at the environmental benefits of co-firing biomass with coal. The major boom in biomass will be in bio-based motor fuels. Actual production might come on line in 2004 and beyond, but 2003 will be a key staging year for growth in biofuels. ·In hydrogen development and fuel cells, there should be a tremendous level of investment continuing in 2003, when we should see more commercial units of stationary fuels cells, and next-step prototypes fuel cells for vehicles. We should also see advances in hydrogen generation, storage, and delivery systems. America’s cultural trends are accelerating in favor of renewables. More people are demanding the option to purchase green power, and there is evidence that people will soon start demanding the option to purchase green fuels. In the corporate world, many companies are adopting “sustainability” as an element of citizenship – witness the many participants in EPA’s new Green Power Partnership. Many universities now offer curricula in environmental engineering, sustainable architecture, Renewable Energy and similar forward-looking careers, suggesting an ever-increasing pool of talent. The global outlook is similarly strong. Markets for Renewable Energy are expanding in Europe, Japan, China, and other countries at a more rapid rate than in the U.S., offering export opportunities (but also threats from imports from companies in those stronger home markets). We face some uncertainties in 2003, including but not limited to, the prospect of war against Iraq with attendant impacts on oil prices and the world economy; the passage of the Energy Bill in Congress; promulgation of FERC rules for electric power markets, transmission access, and hydro relicensing; and others. I believe that we are experiencing the early days of a bright future with Renewable Energy. The American Council for Renewable Energy has been established to deploy national communications to the American people about this bright future and how they can make it happen. About the Author: Mike Eckhart is acting Chairman of the American Council for Renewable Energy, and president of Solar International Management. He has been involved in Renewable Energy and power generation since 1976, in corporate management, venture capital, and consulting roles. He holds a BSEE from Purdue and an MBA from Harvard Business School, and served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. He can be reached at
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