US West Leads The Renewable Energy Way

According to the American Council on Renewable Energy, western US states are leading the charge on good clean energy policy and investment and other regions in the nation need to follow their lead.

In the first instalment of its annual “Renewable Energy In The 50 States” report, ACORE reviewed the renewable energy policies, programs and investment environment in the 13 states that make up the Western Region, and judged the potential for future growth of the renewables sector.

Three more reports, focusing on the Midwest, Northeast, and the Southeast, are due for release in coming months.

The ACORE report found while all states had benefited from enhanced federal government support for wind, solar, and other renewable technologies over the last ten years, “In no part of the U.S. is this truer than in the West,” said Michael Brower, ACORE’s Interim President and CEO.

“With strong renewable portfolio standards (RPS), the political will to protect and/or expand them, and the nearly half of 2012’s new build asset finance for renewable energy, the West is far and away in the national renewable energy vanguard. America needs all the states in our three other regions to quickly follow their lead.”

The Western Region holds the USA’s most solar energy capacity, accounting for 65 percent of the nation’s solar photovoltaic capacity and 86 percent of the nation’s solar thermal electric capacity. Every state has installed wind power, with California and Oregon in the top five states nationwide for wind capacity.

Population growth is expected to fuel more demand for renewable power, said Lesley Hunter, ACORE’s Research and Program Manager and lead author of the report.

“[D]eployment is growing to meet this demand, and the West produced approximately 31% of its total energy generation from renewable energy sources. That is compared to 12% nationally in 2012.”

But the real driver of the renewable sector across the Western Region were strong state renewable portfolio standards, with nine states mandating renewable energy production and guaranteeing net metering standards for small-scale distributed generation technologies, such as rooftop solar power systems.

The Western Region Report, which can be viewed in full here (PDF), was released this week at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-West industry conference in San Francisco.