Dallas, TX -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/11/2012 -- Following a decade of robust and consistent growth, the US’s non-hydropower renewables industry is set to moderate over our 10-year forecast period to 2021, as it faces a number of significant challenges. We maintain our view that the US will remain as one of the global renewables leaders, owing to the vast size of its market, however the lack of a national regulatory framework for renewables and the uncertainty surrounding the country’s subsidy programmes weigh heavily on our growth projections for the industry.
The US remains a global powerhouse of renewable energy, with high levels of investment continuing to pour into the sector. Key trends and recent developments within the US renewables industry include:
- There have been major changes to the government’s subsidy programmes of late. The 1603 Treasury Grant Programme expired on December 31 2011, and the Production Tax Credit is planned to expire at the end of 2012.
- Private companies who have shown little interest in the energy industry until now – including Google Inc, KKR & Co, Warren Buffet, MetLife Inc and John Hancock Life Insurance Co.
- have invested a combined total exceeding US$500mn into the renewables industry in the last year.
- The US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced plans for a new offshore wind energy initiative to help to catalyse the industry’s development in March 2012, with US$180mn to be assigned over the next six years to the industry.
- The Cape Wind power project (the US’s first offshore wind project) gained its fourth clearance by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in August 2012, which rules that the project does not pose a hazard to local airplanes.
- The United States’ US$29bn smart meter programme recently entered a period of volatility, with consumers having raised concerns over the cost of bills and data security. This has led to a number of US utility firms offering opt-out fees to consumers. A number of other firms have announced they are postponing their smart meter programmes.
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South Africa’s need to diversify its coal heavy power mix has led the country to pursue renewable energy as an essential means of electricity generation. The government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) has thus far been successful at encouraging investment into the sector. However, the regulatory uncertainty that underpins South Africa’s business environment is likely to hamper the industry’s development.
Key trends and developments within South African renewables industry:
- The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) was launched in August 2011 and established a bidding system for renewables projects. The programme calls for 3,725MW of green energy capacity to be installed by 2016 and 17,800MW by 2030.
- The Department of Energy received 53 bids in November 2011 for the first round and 79 bids in March 2012 for the second round.
- Wind power project awards account for 562.5 MW of the total 1,043.9 MW of renewable energy capacity awarded in the REIPPP second round auction.
- The South African government, the International Energy Agency (IEA), and the German development agency, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit are developing a national solar power roadmap for South Africa.
- The country suspended its Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) programme in 2011.
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