Report: Stimulus funds help renewables

Just how well has the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) done in increasing the nation’s renewable energy capacity? 

According to SBI Energy’s new report, “ARRA Report Card: Two Years Later,” the U.S. is making significant progress toward attaining the Obama administration’s goal of doubling renewable generation capacity in the country over the next two years.

This is due in large part to support from the landmark stimulus act passed in the wake of the financial crisis of 2009.

ARRA investments over the past two years, according to the report, have gone to fund research projects aimed at developing next generation renewable energy technologies (such as thin film solar and new wind turbine designs) at a price-point competitive with fossil fuels while simultaneously creating long-term economic market growth.

ARRA project investments are said to have spurred the growth of the U.S.’s domestic manufacturing capacity for solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, which is forecasted to grow from 1 gigawatt (GW)  per year in 2008 to nearly 4 GW per year in 2012. 

Other trends with a direct link to ARRA investments include the growth of the U.S.’s wind power capacity by 40% and a 26% increase in new geothermal projects under development in 2009 over the prior year, despite weak economic and investment conditions.

* Susan DeFreitas, EarthTechling