New York / Washington – The U.S. is consuming energy considerably more efficiently and with lower emissions than just five years ago, thanks to a slew of modern technologies that are changing decades-old patterns, research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and industry group the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) find in a new report.
The ‘Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook’ portrays a dynamic and rapidly changing U.S. energy landscape. Natural gas and renewables have gained market share largely at the expense of conventional resources. Energy efficiency is also making a major impact, and as a result energy demand has fallen steeply.
From 2007 to 2012, natural gas rose to 27.2% of total energy consumption (including electricity, heat, and transportation) from 23.4%, while renewables including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower have jumped to 9.4% from 6.4%. Meanwhile, during the same period, coal declined to 18.1% from 22.5% and oil fell to 36.7% from 39.3%. The winner of all this is U.S. emissions. From 2007 to 2012, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions declined 13%.
“Significant changes are occurring in the U.S. energy sector that are boosting investment and accelerating deployment of a range of commercially available clean technologies,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “The 2013 Factbook outlines these dynamics and provides the very latest data, not just on how much is being invested or how much is getting built, but on today’s costs for these technologies. Our hope is that the report serves as a useful tool for policymakers and investors seeking the very best benchmarks in the energy sector.”
The Factbook highlights how energy efficiency is increasingly becoming a priority, particularly among large power consumers such as manufacturers who are being ever more cost-conscious. U.S. utility budgets for efficiency expenditures reached $7 billion in 2011 (the latest available date for which data exists), and financing for energy efficiency retrofits has become increasingly sophisticated, propelling further greening of U.S. buildings. Since 1980, energy intensity of commercial buildings has fallen by more than 40%. Overall, energy demand decreased by 6.4% from 2007 to 2012 largely due to efficiency gains and despite economic growth.
Renewable energy sources are being built quickly while renewable energy production costs are plummeting. The total installed renewable capacity has more than doubled in the five years between 2008 and 2012. The cost of electricity generated by average large solar power plants has fallen from 31 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009 to 14 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2012 (excluding the effect of tax credits and other incentives, which would bring those costs down even lower). Over the same period, the cost of power from a typical large wind farm has decreased from 9 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009 to 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Evolution of the transport sector mirrors that of power, prompted by advances in technology and new fuel economy requirements. Sales for hybrids and plug-in vehicles reached 488,000 units in 2012 and natural gas use in the transport sector increased by 26% over 2008-11.
“These new energy technologies, which some still claim aren’t ready for prime time, are already making a major impact on U.S. energy,” said Ethan Zindler, Head of Policy Analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “And the U.S. has only begun to receive the full benefit of lower prices for clean energy equipment.”
The Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg New Energy Finance created the Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook to arm policymakers, journalists and industry professionals with up-to-date, accurate market intelligence. The report looks at clean energy broadly – from natural gas to large-scale renewables including hydropower, to distributed power, to demand-side energy efficiency – and is quantitative and objective.
The Factbook was commissioned by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and supported by the generous contributions of the following BCSE Members: American Gas Association, American Wind Energy Association, Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, First Solar, Ingersoll Rand, Johnson Controls, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, Northern California Power Agency, Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Sempra Energy and Solar Turbines.
Source: BCSE and BNEF.
About Bloomberg New Energy Finance
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) is the world’s leading independent provider of news, data, research and analysis to decision-makers in renewable energy, energy smart technologies, carbon markets, carbon capture and storage, and nuclear power. BNEF has staff of more than 200, based in London, Washington D.C., New York, Beijing, New Delhi, Cape Town, São Paulo, Singapore, and Sydney. BCSE members provided BNEF with additional datasets for use in this report. BNEF compiled, wrote, and edited this report and retained editorial independence and responsibility for its content throughout the process. For more information on BNEF, visit http://about.bnef.com.
About Business Council for Sustainable Energy
Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) is a coalition of companies and trade associations from the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors. The Council membership also includes independent electric power producers, investor-owned utilities, public power, commercial end-users and project developers and service providers for environmental markets. The release of the Factbook celebrates the Council’s 20th anniversary. Since 1992, the Council has been a leading industry voice advocating for policies at the state, national and international levels that increase the use of commercially-available clean energy technologies, products and services. For more information on BCSE, visit http://www.bcse.org.