The U.S. Still on Sustainable Energy Path.
The United States saw continued growth in renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency in 2014, according to the third annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. The Factbook shows that U.S. deployment of sustainable energy increased as prices continued to fall and that investment in U.S. clean energy grew at a higher rate.
Analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance who prepared the Factbook for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy found that “over the 2007–2014 period, U.S. carbon emissions from the energy sector dropped 9%, U.S. natural gas production rose 25% and total U.S. investment in clean energy (renewables and advanced grid, storage and electrified transport technologies) reached $386 billion.”
“The 2015 Factbook clearly shows that America is on the path to a more sustainable energy sector,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “Our energy productivity is rising along with economic growth, while energy-intensive industries are onshoring production to the United States to take advantage of low energy costs. All of this is happening as investment in clean energy continues to grow and as new natural gas infrastructure continues to come online. These are strong positive signs for America’s economy and environment.”
Key trends in sustainable energy growth noted in the 2015 Factbook include:
The Factbook also discusses the collapse of oil prices in 2014. While there is no explicit link between oil (which in the United States is used mostly for transport) and most sustainable energy technologies (which are used mostly in the power sector), the oil price shock has a profound global impact and may result in “second-order” effects that could impact U.S. sustainable energy, the Factbook noted.
“Against the backdrop of a surging economy and crumbling oil prices, major trends around decarbonization and improving energy productivity continued in the United States,” said Michel Di Capua, head of Americas research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Low-carbon energy technologies stand to benefit from key policies proposed in 2014, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed regulation for the power sector and an innovative new vision for the electricity market in New York State.”
The Factbook also shows renewable energy and energy efficiency making significant strides across several metrics in 2014, including:
While the United States is clearly heading toward more use of sustainable energy, the Factbook did show deviations from the larger trend. These include an increase of coal’s share in U.S. electricity generation from 37% in 2012 to an estimated 39% in 2013 and 2014; an increase in carbon emissions from the U.S. energy sector of around 3% since 2012; and a slowdown in utilities’ and states’ adoption of energy efficiency.
The Factbook notes that policy will play a central role in determining where the U.S. energy mix heads in 2015 and beyond. State, federal and international policies – including the EPA’s Clean Power Plan regulation on existing power plants; the global climate negotiations scheduled in Paris this fall; and federal and state-level support for renewables, efficiency and natural gas development – will all help determine the speed with which the trend toward sustainable energy develops in 2015.
The Factbook also contains extensive analysis, charts and data on a wide range of sustainable energy trends in 2014, including energy storage, oil and transportation, distributed energy, combined heat and power (CHP), carbon capture and storage (CCS), and natural gas infrastructure investment.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) provides unique analysis, tools and data for decision makers driving change in the energy system.
Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) is a coalition of companies and trade associations from the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors.
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