Rau 12 – (3/2/12, Alex, PhD in physics, founding partner of Climate Wedge Ltd, an independent firm providing carbon finance and emissions trading related advisory and asset management services, and pursuing principal investments and project development in the carbon markets, “Is America Losing Its Edge in Clean-Energy Tech?” http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/03/is_america_losing_its_edge_in.html)
Amid all the concern over America's competitiveness, it's easy to overlook a sector where many U.S. companies are outperforming their overseas counterparts: Clean-energy technologies.These are the products and infrastructure elements such as solar panels and smart electricity grids that are reducing our reliance on petroleum and coal. This healthy, innovative sector holds out vast promise, but missteps now could cost the United States its lead.
The clean-energy field is evolving rapidly. In just the past few years, there has been a global boom in the wind and solar industries, with wind power's generating capacity expanding dramatically and companies competing to offer free solar panels to households. The United States has played an enormous role in the expansion of these segments and is the world's largest generator of renewable energy outside of conventional hydropower. That's been due to the country's unique combination of a large energy market, advanced research universities, innovative private-sector laboratories, an abundance of entrepreneurs, large pools of risk capital, and a historically supportive policy environment that has created incentives for innovation in — and deployment of — clean-energy sources and technologies. The U.S. has underwritten much of the technological innovation behind clean energy's progress.
The pace of innovation is one reason prices have dropped dramatically: Putting solar panels on American roofs costs, on average, less than half of what it did just two years ago, in part because a Moore's Law-like innovation cycle is unfolding in photovoltaic technology. The price collapse is great for consumers and utility companies, and it raises the prospect that American energy costs might someday reverse course, a turn of events that would do wonders for the nation's productivity. Declining energy prices would also help raise U.S. competitiveness in the sense that they would boost consumers' standard of living while increasing companies' ability to succeed globally.
Renewable energy growth and investment increasing now – even more than fossil fuels
Morales 12 – (1/18/12, Alex, Bloomberg News, “Renewable-Energy Growth To Outpace Oil, Gas Through 2030, BP Says,” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-18/renewables-to-grow-more-than-8-a-year-through-2030-bp-says.html)
Wind power, solar electricity and biofuels consumption will grow at a faster pace than demand for fossil fuels in the next 20 years as nations seek to meet rising energy needs without adding to carbon emissions, BP Plc (BP/) said.
Global renewables consumption will rise 8.2 percent a year through 2030, outstripping the annual 2.1 percent gain for natural gas, the fastest-growing fossil fuel, BP said today in its annual outlook. Total energy demand for power, transport and heating is forecast to advance 1.6 percent a year.
“The growth of global energy consumption is increasingly being met by non-fossil fuels,” BP said. “Renewables, nuclear and hydro together account for 34 percent of the growth; this aggregate non-fossil contribution is, for the first time, larger than the contribution of any single fossil fuel.”
New investment in renewable energy rose to a record $260 billion last year from $243 billion in 2010, which was the first year that fresh money flowing into wind and solar generation topped funds for new oil-, coal- and gas-fired output, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Governments around the world have subsidized the expansion of cleaner power production to satisfy energy demand while curtailing polluting emissions.
“It is in the power sector where the greatest changes in the fuel mix are expected,” BP said. “Renewables, nuclear and hydroelectric should account for more than half the growth in power generation.”
Eight technologies will experience exponential growth
Bossong 12 – (7/5/12, citing Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, and a recent report from the IEA, Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012, Kenneth, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1993 to promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels, “IEA sees renewable energy growth accelerating over next 5 years,” http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2012/july/name,28200,en.html)
The report’s release comes amid profound changes and the uncertainties associated with a cautious macroeconomic outlook. First, governments in several key markets are deliberating significant changes to renewable policies and deeper electricity market reforms as renewable deployment scales up. Second, the cost and availability of financing will act as a key variable, with a need for more investment sources and structures. Finally, some parts of the renewable industry are going through a period of dramatic upheaval, with supply chains restructuring and shifting geographically while delivering cost reductions. Ultimately, such a consolidation should lead to a more mature and robust renewable sector.
The report presents detailed forecasts for renewable energy generation and capacity for eight technologies – hydropower, bioenergy for power, onshore wind, offshore wind, solar photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP), geothermal and ocean power. This first edition focuses on renewable energy in the electricity sector, though it also examines solar thermal heating.
Hydropower continues to account for the majority of renewable generation and it registers the largest absolute growth (+730 TWh) of any single renewable technology over 2011-17, largely driven by non-OECD countries.
Non-hydropower renewable technologies continue to scale up quickly. Between 2011 and 2017, generation from these technologies increases by over 1 100 TWh, with growth equally split between OECD and non-OECD countries.
Onshore wind, bioenergy and solar PV see the largest increases, respectively, in generation after hydropower. Offshore wind and CSP grow quickly from low bases. Geothermal continues to develop in areas with good resources. Ocean technologies take important steps towards commercialisation.