Two-Pronged Approach Increases Renewables

Two policy approaches are currently proving popular for developing renewable energy supplies in the United States: green power markets, which use a free-market approach to allow consumers and businesses to buy renewable energy; and state renewable energy requirements and goals, which set specific amounts of renewable energy per year, usually imposed upon utilities within each state.

Washington DC – July 29, 2004 [] According to recent reports, as of the end of 2003, the two policy options have resulted in about 3,650 MW of new renewable energy capacity. In each case, wind power has been the most significant contributor to new renewable energy capacity. In a June memo titled “Estimate of New Renewable Energy Capacity Serving U.S. Green Power Markets (2003),” analysts at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report that nearly 1,650 MW of new renewable energy capacity was supplying green power customers at the end of 2003, with another 390 MW either under construction or formally announced. According to the NREL memo, wind power provided nearly 94 percent of that new capacity. Competitive power markets and renewable energy credits produced about twice as much new capacity as voluntary “green pricing” programs offered by utilities. State renewable energy requirements and goals have been slightly more successful than green power programs, resulting in 2,004 MW of new renewable energy capacity as of the end of 2003, according to a new analysis by DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). Fifteen states now have some form of renewable energy requirement or goal, according to the EIA. Nine have renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which require renewable energy to supply a percentage of the state’s electricity, and four states have mandates that specify how much new capacity should be built. Since most RPS requirements are just beginning to take effect, they have resulted in only 321 MW of new renewable capacity, but the EIA credits state mandates with 2,335 MW of new capacity, about half of which is in Texas. Similar to the green power markets, 93 percent of the new capacity was provided by wind power. Article courtesy of the DOE’s EERE Network News


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