Renewable Energy Reaches over 60% of new capacity additions in 2009

by Jigar Shah, Founder SunEdison and CEO of the Carbon War Room

As wind come out at a robust 9.9GW in 2009, Solar at maybe 600MW, etc, it looks like the zero-emissions folks will again install a majority of incremental MWs. The balance is mostly natural gas a little bit of Coal. Getting this number of 100% by 2012 and then above 100% by 2015 will be critical to achieving emissions reductions in our electricity sector. So what are the barriers:

1) Project Finance — we have to acknowledge that the arms race that we have on the tax credit side has to be reversed. Natural gas, coal, wind, solar, etc will have to agree to eliminate their Federal Tax Credits. If we can take all fossil fuel credits a phase them out over a few years and allow the wind and solar credit to expire when they are due, project finance would get a lot easier and you could go offshore for the money.
2) Respect — we are still looking to build new Nuclear, Coal, and other resources when we can show on paper that distributed energy combined with aggressive energy efficiency, smart grid, and storage can compete favorably while creating more jobs. This means that we need the DOE and other credible bodies to start publishing research in this area at an accelerating pace.
3) Liquidity support — many renewables projects can cost less than $10MM. For these project, efficient access to capital markets are difficult. Using a Fannie Mae like body to buy these projects under fixed rate of return formulas and selling them to Wall Street would help bring liquidity to the system
The technology is ready to meet the price points of the electricity industry, but integration and scaling takes a level of cooperation that we have here-to-for not seen. This can be done without more money from the Federal budget and at a cost that is less than new Coal, new Nuclear, and new Transmission.
Watching this play out will be fun. For more information this is a good report from Black and Veatch.
You can find out more about Jigar Shah and the work of this new organization at www.carbonwarroom.com
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