Democrats’ clean electricity plan will require 85 GW of renewable energy additions per year: S&P

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Dive brief:

  • The United States must install 85 GW of renewable energy each year through 2035 to achieve the emission reductions targeted in current Clean Electricity Performance Program legislation, according to analysis published Tuesday by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
  • In an independent but related announcement, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced an industry-wide goal to generate 30% of the electricity of the United States with solar energy by 2030.
  • The new target was in part aimed at aligning the industry with targets at the federal level, said Dan Whitten, Vice President of Public Affairs of SEIA. While this will require a higher level of ambition than in the past, Whitten said he believes the new goal – which also aligned with S&P projections – should be achievable.

Dive overview:

While reducing the electricity sector’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 – and 100% by 2035 – will require an “unprecedented” effort from industry and government leaders, these goals are within our reach, according to Steve piper, Research Director for Energy at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Achieving those goals will require an additional 630 GW of wind power and 450 GW of solar by 2035, or about 85 GW of new renewable energy each year, according to Tuesday’s report. Construction would cost some $ 1.2 trillion, or $ 94 billion per year, between 2023 and 2035.

As ambitious as these numbers may sound, they are not too far removed from the direction the industry is already taking based on current demand from utilities, corporate buyers and the state’s decarbonization initiatives, said. Piper. The United States is already on track to deploy 63 GW of new renewable energy over the next two years, which means the industry only needs 30-50% more to meet the target of 85 GW.

“As much new investment as that entails, and as historically unprecedented as it sounds, the costs seem manageable to us,” Piper said. “It just takes a sustained effort and a commitment to do it.”

It turns out that the targets correspond to the targets independently announced by SEIA. On the current trajectory, solar power accounts for 14-15% of US energy production by 2030. SEIA originally aimed to increase that number to 20%, but announced on Tuesday its intention to target 30% instead to better align with the climate change emergency and growing federal support, Whitten said.

At 30% of US production, solar would represent 850 GW of total capacity – well above the 320 GW requested by S&P in the same time frame, and just below the 1,080 GW total of renewable energy that S&P estimates necessary to cut the electricity sector emissions by 80%.

“There is a common theme with CEPP and the goals that Biden and the industry set for themselves – and obviously this all represents efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the power sector and really move forward. decarbonization, ”said Whitten. “For that to happen, you really have to have goals.”

However, Whitten, like Piper, said he believes the new 30% target is achievable assuming industry, utilities and government can align with unifying goals.

Federal incentives and a push to support new renewable energy technologies would go a long way towards meeting emissions targets, Piper said. The SEIA, likewise, is pushing for a ten-year extension of the investment tax credit with a direct payment option, for a reduction in trade restrictions and an increase in manufacturing in the United States, Whitten said. . More investment in transport expansion is also needed to meet the new climate goals, he said.

“I think we can achieve something important,” he said. “I think important policies are certainly achievable, and that will make a huge difference in the power sector.”


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