Despite Sluggish Economy, Renewable Energy Shows Strength This Year

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Industry leaders who gathered at the American Council On Renewable Energy's (ACORE) annual RETECH Trade Show and Conference in Washington, D.C., last week highlighted that the renewable energy sector has showed surprising growth this year.

In the first half of the year, over 2 GW of newly installed wind power and 582 MW of solar power were added to the nation's power supply, according to ACORE, which cites multiple reasons behind the aggressive growth numbers, including rapidly declining prices for solar panels and wind turbines.

‘Thirty-three percent of all new power in 2010 was generated by renewable energy resources,’ says Dennis V. McGinn, president of ACORE. ‘A combination of economics and policy is driving U.S. market growth. However, to sustain this momentum, we need long-term consistency in government policy.’

It is anticipated that the pending expiration of the 1603 cash grant in lieu of tax credits at the end of this year and expiration of the production tax credit at the end of 2012 will severely dampen the number of new projects in 2012. According to ACORE's Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance, $20 billion in renewable energy projects would be lost if the 1603 and PTC programs are not extended.

In a keynote address at RETECH, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, expressed both hopefulness about the potential for renewable energy and a desire for a more consistent federal policy.

‘There's a lot of reasons for optimism about clean technologies,’ she said. ‘New ideas are emerging, costs are coming down, and deployment is increasing. All of those are welcome developments for our energy supply and the global environment.’

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