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US adds only 5.4 GW renewables capacity in 2013 - BNEF
 
Published: February 5, 2014
 
The US installed 5.4 GW of renewables in 2013, down from 18 GW in 2012, but still reached a 13% share of US power generation, according to the US Sustainable Energy in America 2014 Factbook.
 
In 2012 the renewable energy share was 12%.
 
The Factbook has been produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) for The Business Council for Sustainable Energy. According to the report, new investment in renewable energy was only USD 48.4 billion (EUR 35.8bn) in 2013, far below the record USD 68.5 billion from 2011.
 
Overall, 2013 was not a strong year for renewables in the US, especially for wind power where installations plunged to about 1 GW from 13 GW in 2012 due to the uncertainty created before the last-minute extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC). In contrast, there was a jump in solar photovoltaic (PV) installations which reached a record in 2013, BNEF points out in the Factbook. The company expects that 2014 would be a better year for both wind and solar energy.
 
The good news is that renewable power costs reached record lows in 2013 and in some locations fell below the price for fossil-fueled power generation. BNEF calculates that PV module prices have dropped by some 80% since 2008. Total system costs for utility-scale solar parks are now as low as USD 1.55 per watt and are seen to keep falling. Solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) for projects that are to be up and ready to run in 2016 sometimes feature prices of USD 70/MWh and even less. For wind farms, certain PPAs go as low as USD 20/MWh for plants that will go live this or next year.
 
The Factbook also focuses on the growing use of natural gas in the US and the increased focus on energy efficiency. The share of natural gas-fired plants in total power generation for 2013 was 28%. This is a bit below the 31% for 2012, when gas prices were extremely low, but above the 22% for 2007. Overall, US natural gas production and consumption hit all-time highs in 2013, BNEF says. As for energy efficiency, already 31 states and the District of Columbia, which account for some 77% of US population, have regulations that facilitate the financing of energy efficiency.
 
BNEF estimates that energy efficiency, renewables and natural gas are to congratulate for the nearly 10% fall in greenhouse gas emissions in the US since 2005. President Obama targets a 17% cut in emissions by the end of the decade.