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Two years after the enactment of ARRA, indications are strong that the Recovery Act is aiding the U.S. in attaining its goal of doubling renewable generation capacity over the next two years.
Renewable energy has taken hold in the U.S. with installations of new wind turbines and solar panels occurring regularly. The U.S. is making significant progress toward attaining its goal of doubling renewable generation capacity over the next two years, due in large part to support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) introduced in 2009.
ARRA investments are funding research projects to develop next generation renewable energy technologies, such as solar thin films and new wind turbine designs that will create a cost competitive alternative to electricity currently generated from coal or natural gas power plants while simultaneously creating long-term economic market growth. Consider the following examples:
· Aided by ARRA investments, The Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) reports that domestic manufacturing capacity for solar photovoltaic (PV) modules is forecasted to grow from <1 GW per year in 2008 to nearly 4 GW per year in 2012.
· ARRA investments are accelerating the rate of innovation in solar photovoltaics and according to the CEA, the new technology will drive down the costs of solar panels over the next five years; possibly by 50%.
· U.S. wind power capacity grew 40% in 2009 over the prior year, despite weak economic and investment conditions. In July 2010, the CEA reported that ARRA was responsible for approximately 6 GW of wind capacity installation that might not otherwise have occurred in 2009.
· U.S. manufacturing capacity for components such as gearboxes, generators, and large casted steel parts, has lagged behind actual demand. The 48C Manufacturing Tax Credit program awarded $346 million in tax credits to 52 wind manufacturing projects to facilitate additional U.S. manufacturing capacity to ensure the U.S. is able to supply a growing domestic market through domestic production.
· An April 2010 U.S. Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) survey indicated a 26% increase in new projects under development in 2009 and concludes that the stimulus funding played an important role in propelling geothermal growth amidst recessionary economic conditions.
Overall, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that U.S. renewable generation capacity will increase 32% more than without ARRA support – reaching 155 GW in 2015. Two years after the enactment of ARRA, indications are strong that the Recovery Act is aiding the U.S. in attaining its goal of doubling renewable generation capacity in the next two years.