Renewable Power Growth in the US and Canada Supported by Strong Local Policies

Date: 06-Jun-2014
The US and Canada are global leaders in renewable power generation. The growth momentum of their renewable industries has primarily been driven by the support mechanisms provided by federal and state governments. Although both countries have federal regulations in place for renewable industry, states and provinces with strong policy frameworks have been the leading contributors to installed capacity, and the pattern of development has largely been dependent on the support mechanisms provided. In the US, the growth of the renewable energy industry has been led by the state-level Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), combined with other tax incentives and subsidies. California and Texas, which have been providing policy support to the renewable energy industry for more than a decade, are the leaders in renewable capacity in the US. The Canadian government is supporting renewable energy with its ecoEnergy program, and Ontario, with its comprehensive Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program, is the leading province in terms of renewable power capacity.

Extension of Production Tax Credit and Change in Clause to Stimulate US Wind Power Installations in the near Future

The growth of the wind industry in the US has primarily been facilitated by the support mechanisms provided by the federal and state governments. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) is credited as being one of the most important policies in terms of driving the US wind power industry, and provides an income tax credit for facilities placed in service before the expiry date. Since its inception, the PTC has expired seven times, and each expiry has led to a sharp decline in annual installed capacity. In 2012, when the PTC was due to expire, the tax credit was extended for an additional year for wind power facilities. This extension also changed the scope of the projects that are eligible for PTC, meaning that all wind power projects for which construction had started by the end of 2013 would be eligible for PTC once the facility became operational. This change in the scope of eligibility stimulated the construction of a high number of projects by the end of 2013, and is expected to lead to increased annual wind power capacity over the next two to three years, in contrast with the decline observed when the PTC has expired in previous instances.

ecoEnergy Initiatives and Provincial Policies to Boost Renewable Energy in Canada

Canada is a leading country in terms of the use of renewable energy resources for electricity generation and heating. In 2013, renewable energy, including small hydropower, accounted for 8.9% of its electricity generation. Wind power is the most prominent source of renewable energy, generating around 39% of Canada’s renewable total – including hydropower – in 2013. The Canadian government is using both ecoEnergy and FiTs to develop its renewable energy sector and promote the use of renewable energy in the country. ecoEnergy is an umbrella program that covers various federal incentives to promote renewable energy production. The government has invested approximately $5 billion in ecoEnergy initiatives to provide FiTs, fund renewable energy projects, finance technology initiatives, and support energy efficiency in various sectors.

Canada does not currently have a federal target in place for the production of power through renewable energy technologies, as the federal government has authorized each province to develop its renewable power markets individually, meaning each province has its own policy framework. The Ontario FiT program is the region’s first comprehensive price-guarantee system for renewable power generation, while the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP) and the sales tax rebate initiative are other programs supporting the development of the solar power market in Ontario. Additionally, net metering, which is offered in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, is also supporting solar power generation in Canada.

Mexico's National Energy Strategy to Drive Renewable Power Capacity

Mexico possesses substantial reserves of coal, oil and gas, and its power sector is currently dominated by these sources, which jointly account for 70% of its power capacity. Renewable power capacity increased at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9% between 2000 and 2013, increasing from 1.23 Gigawatts (GW) in 2000 to 3.85 GW in 2013. In 2012, the government introduced the National Energy Strategy, which established a roadmap for energy policies to be implemented over the next 15 years, and set a specific goal for the generation of 35% of electricity from non-fossil sources, in order to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The target under this strategy also limits the share to be accounted for by generation from fossil fuel technologies to 60% by 2035 and 50% by 2050. The strategy is expected to encourage the use of renewable sources for power generation.

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