US Renewable Energy Market Share Can Triple By 203013 Jan 2015 |
A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) notes that renewable energy’s share of the US energy market can more than triple by 2030 — going from 7.5% of the mix to 27% of the mix using reasonable yet ambitious assumptions.
Renewable energy’s share of the electricity market could increase from 14% to 50%, the leading energy organization notes.
If this future holds true, as well as other scenarios laid out by IRENA, the United States would be the second-largest user of renewable energy in the world in 2030, only trailing China. Based on trends in recent years and renewable energy growth targets, that seems more likely than not anyway. Of course, on a per capita or per GDP basis, things would look very different, and neither country would be at (or even near) the top. Still, the growth of renewable energy in these huge countries and markets is critical.
“As the second largest energy consumer in the world, the US must continue to play a leading role in the global transition to a sustainable energy future,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA. “The recent agreement between the US and China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a groundbreaking step, but this report aims even higher, showing that more can be done at limited cost.”
Unfortunately, while 27% renewable energy by 2030 is very possible, current policies and politics are only likely to lead to 10% according to IRENA’s forecasts. Annual investments in renewable energy need to jump from $38 billion to $86 billion. While that may sound like a lot, the annual savings for society that result from all factors (including health improvements) are estimated to be $30–140 billion under the 27% renewables scenario. This is the key factor that so many forget when looking at the “costs” of renewable energy. To put it in more human terms, it may cost ~$10 more a day to eat a balanced diet, but the savings from better health come to ~$15… plus, you don’t have to suffer through health problems as much. For this reason alone, massive renewable energy investment and policies to support it should be a given. We’ll see how things turn out.
This new report, Renewable Energy Prospects: United States of America, is part of IRENA’s REmap 2030, a global renewable energy roadmap for 2030.
I’m sure we’ll have more great news from IRENA as the 5th assembly of IRENA gets underway in Abu Dhabi this weekend.