The US government “is laying the foundation for a clean energy economy that will create a new generation of jobs, reduce dependence on oil and enhance national security,” Vice President Joe Biden says in a progress report of the Recovery Act.
“The energy components of the Recovery Act represent the largest single investment in clean energy in American history and are leveraging private investment and fostering American innovation and ingenuity.”
Investments of US$80 billion under the Recovery Act will produce US$150bn in clean and renewable energy projects and existing investment programmes could produce US$90bn in additional clean and renewable energy projects which will “accelerate investment in clean energy projects and pull private investment off the sidelines,” he explains.
“They are jump-starting a major transformation of our energy system, including unprecedented growth in the generation of renewable sources of energy, enhanced manufacturing capacity for clean energy technology, advanced vehicle and fuel technologies, and a bigger, better, smarter electric grid.”
Investments in generation of green power and advanced energy manufacturing of US$23bn will create 253,000 jobs and leverage US$43bn in additional investment that could support 469,000 more jobs, he estimates, “putting us on track to meet the goal of doubling our renewable energy generation, including solar, wind and geothermal, in just three years.”
By the end of next year, the US government will have made commitments to support 15 GW of new wind, solar and other renewable energy.
“At the same time, we are increasing our capacity to make the wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable energy components here in America,” he says. Investments of US$2.3bn for advanced energy manufacturing facilities will produce 17,000 jobs and the investment will be matched by US$5.4bn in private sector funding to support 41,000 additional jobs and 200 renewable energy manufacturing projects, including solar, wind and biomass.
“For too long, there have been too many obstacles to siting renewables generation projects on federal lands,” he continues. “9 federal agencies with authority over the siting process on federal lands have signed an MoU to designate a lead agency to run point on all federal authorisations and streamline process. The agencies estimate that this will cut permit times by up to a third.”
The Department of Interior has set up renewable energy coordinating offices and has fast-tracked 30 renewable energy projects on federal lands while, for solar, the DoI has set aside 1000 square miles of public lands for potential solar development. For wind, DoI is coordinating with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to grant leases, easements and rights-of-way for renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Biden’s report also notes that a commitment to invest US$16bn in projects to support plug-in hybrid cars, all-electric vehicles and the infrastructure needed to power them, will result in US production plants with capacity to produce 250,000 electric cars and batteries to power 500,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The Recovery Act will also support the next generation of renewable biofuels.
“The transition to a clean energy economy will result in a transformation not only in how we produce and transport energy, but in how we use it,” he states. “It will result in a future in which smart appliances can make decisions about when to turn on and off and consumers can programme their homes to use energy most efficiently. It will result in a grid that can detect outages before they happen, and re-route power where it is needed.”
The US$4bn in Recovery Act smart grid investments will result in 43,000 new jobs, and be matched by private sector funding to support 61,000 additional jobs on smart grid projects. Implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity usage by 4% by 2030, which would mean annual utility savings of US$20bn and “add renewable energy resources to the grid.”
The report also details progress on energy efficiency, carbon capture & storage (CCS), nuclear power, and the science and innovation needed to “provide the foundation for the clean energy economy,” he concludes. Funding of US$400m to the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy includes funds for the most advanced research in wind, solar, and geothermal technologies.