World Watch
by Darcey Rakestraw

 
 
RENEWABLES BECOMING COST-COMPETITIVE WITH FOSSIL FUELS IN THE U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Renewable resources currently provide just over 6 percent of total U.S. energy, but that figure could increase rapidly in the years ahead, according to a joint report released today by the Worldwatch Institute and the Center for American Progress, "American Energy: The Renewable Path to Energy Security." To receive an embargoed copy of the report, please contact Darcey Rakestraw - drakestraw@worldwatch.org -or Daniella Gibbs Leger -
dleger@americanprogress.org.

Many of the new technologies that harness renewables are, or soon will
be, economically competitive with fossil fuels. Dynamic growth rates are
driving down costs and spurring rapid advances in technologies. Since
2000, global wind energy generation has more than tripled; solar cell
production has risen six-fold; production of fuel ethanol from crops
have more than doubled; and biodiesel production has expanded nearly
four-fold. Annual global investment in "new" renewable energy has risen
almost six-fold since 1995, with cumulative investment over this period
nearly $180 billion.

"With oil prices soaring, the security risks of petroleum dependence
growing, and the environmental costs of today's fuels becoming more
apparent, the country faces compelling reasons to put these technologies
to use on a larger scale," notes the report. Some of the findings
include:

  • America boasts some of the world's best renewable energy resources, which have the potential to meet a rising and significant share of the nation's energy demand. For example, one-fourth of U.S. land area has winds powerful enough to generate electricity as cheaply as natural gas and coal, and the solar resources of just seven southwest states could provide 10 times the current electric generating capacity.
  • All but four U.S. states now have incentives in place to promote renewable energy, while more than a dozen have enacted new renewable energy laws in the past few years, and four states strengthened their targets in 2005.
  • California gets 31 percent of its electricity from renewable resources; 12 percent of this comes from non-hydro sources such as wind and geothermal energy.
  • Texas now has the country's largest collection of wind generators. The United States led the world in wind energy installations in 2005.
  • Iowa produces enough ethanol that, if consumed in-state, would
    meet half the state's gasoline requirements.
  • Renewable energy creates more jobs per unit of energy produced and per dollar spent than fossil fuel technologies do.

Despite strong public support and rapidly rising interest in renewable
technologies, the U.S. has not kept up with the rapid growth in the
sector globally over the past decade. If the U.S. is to join the world
leaders in renewable energy-among them Germany, Spain, and Japan-it will
need world-class energy policies based on a sustained and consistent
policy framework at the local, state, and national levels.

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Darcey Rakestraw
Communications Manager
Worldwatch Institute
1776 Massachusetts Ave. #800
Washington, DC 20036
202-452-1992 x 517

drakestraw@worldwatch.org
www.worldwatch.org

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