Policies set by federal and state governments in the U.S. and Canada are driving the growth of renewable power generation and maintaining the countries' status as global leaders in the industry, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.
The company's latest report says federal policies, such as the U.S. government's production tax credit (PTC) and Canada's ecoEnergy program, alongside state policies including renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the U.S., are fundamental to the continued development of renewable power in North America.
"In the U.S., renewable power growth has been stimulated by state-level RPS, led by California and Texas," explains Swati Singh, analyst for GlobalData. "Under RPS, most participating states have set targets to produce between 10 percent and 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by specified dates from 2015 onwards. Some states have more ambitious targets, such as 33 percent in California by 2020 and 40 percent in Maine by as early as 2017."
However, state RPS policies are consistently attacked. For example, Kansas' renewable energy mandate survived yet another legislative assault this year, while Ohio just passed a two-year freeze on its Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard. Furthermore, the expired PTC still awaits revival after a tax extenders bill stalled in the U.S. Senate.
The report says that in Canada, the ecoEnergy program has seen approximately $5 billion invested in a variety of federal schemes to provide feed-in tariffs (FITs) and to fund renewable energy projects, finance technology initiatives and support energy efficiency. There are no federal targets for renewable energy production in Canada, but each province has been authorized to develop its own policy framework, the report adds.
Quebec has a target of achieving 4 GW of wind power by 2015, while provinces such as British Columbia and Saskatchewan are targeting 90% and 100%, respectively, of new power generation from renewable resources by 2016.
"Of all the Canadian provinces, Ontario has the greatest renewable energy capacity due to a comprehensive FIT program developed under its Green Energy Act of 2009," says Singh. "Ontario's Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program sets a FIT for small renewable energy production projects, with the aim of making it easier and more economical for businesses to supply renewable power to the provincial grid."