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U.S. clean power sector grows at record pace

The U.S. set a new record for clean power sector installations in the second quarter - and there's no end in sight. Still, the industry is sending cautionary words towards Washington.

The American Clean Power Association (ACP) has released its Clean Power Market Report. According to the report, the U.S. installed 5,620 MW of wind, solar and battery storage in Q2 2021, setting a new record. In the first half of 2021, a total of 9,915 MW was installed, also a new record and a 17% increase year-over-year.

"This market report shows the record growth across the renewable energy sector. With a record pace of installations in the first half of 2021 our industry not only provides good-paying jobs but also is a key part of solving the climate crisis," said Heather Zichal, CEO of ACP. In recent months, the various individual associations in the U.S. renewable sector had united under the umbrella of the American Clean Power Association, so the numbers now all come from the same place.

Notable about the record is the continued absence of a U.S. offshore wind sector. Since the change in the White House to Democratic Joe Biden as president, the prospects for offshore wind development to begin soon have greatly improved, but it is still taking time for projects to finally be built. However, as things stand, the first projects on the U.S. East Coast will celebrate the start of construction in the coming months, while the West Coast, led by California, is already intensively exploring the possibilities of floating wind farms.

Aging infrastructure also continues to hold back U.S. expansion, though the latest signals from Washington suggest that Democrats and Republicans are indeed getting their act together to put together a joint billion-dollar infrastructure package that will advance grid expansion, among other things.

More and more electricity is needed for electrification (Image: Pixabay)

Nevertheless, the ACP is also sending cautionary words toward Washington. "This growth and expansion are expected to continue but we need policymakers in Washington to make long term decisions to ensure we can continue to develop these critical projects," Zichal said. That's why it's necessary to approve an extension of renewable energy tax credits and provide the opportunity for federal credits for storage and battery projects.

So far, the storage sector in the U.S. is growing very well on its own - the market report reports new installations of 570 MW, an increase of 439% - but overall, there are still far too few renewable energy storage options.

Germany, where offshore wind expansion has come to a complete standstill this year, is a current example of how dangerous the lack of political support can be. A similar fate has already befallen German onshore expansion in recent years, which has been slow to recover from expansion caps and the switch to a tendering system. The U.S. renewables industry, however, is currently a long way from this.

Katrin Radtke
USA, ACP, association, wind, solar, onshore, offshore, Germany, battery, storage, sector, industry, Washington, policy

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