This was good conversation we had around this nexus of the clean energy expansion and Clean Power Plan work. We will finish this up tomorrow.
This post was co-authored with my colleague, Starla Yeh.
In climate action, as in sports, momentum can be tangible. Just this week, the Golden State Warriors needed a major shift in momentum to win the Western Conference Finals after falling behind 3 games to 1. In game 6, sharpshooter Klay Thompson led the way for the Warriors, powering them to victory. That laid the groundwork for unanimous MVP Steph Curry to take over in the next game, propelling Golden State to help them win the series and keeping their team’s path to the championship on track.
Just like Klay laid the groundwork for Steph, clean energy expansion is laying the groundwork for the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
Due in large part to the recent extension of federal tax credits for wind and solar energy, clean energy is unanimously expected to continue its rapid growth over the next several years. And in 2022, the Clean Power Plan is ready to take over, keeping our climate progress on track.
As NRDC reports in its latest issue brief, various industry and government sources conducting independent power sector forecast analyses reach the same conclusion: clean energy is expected to continue its rapid growth over the next six years thanks in large part to the extension of tax credits for wind and solar projects approved by Congress and signed into law last December. This clear trend is also driving down carbon pollution from the power sector, and makes reaching the Clean Power Plan limits even easier than we had originally projected. However, the issue brief also stresses that these trends are neither guaranteed nor permanent, and we’ll need the Clean Power Plan to keep the power sector on the right course in the long term.
Let’s walk through each of these key takeaways and talk teamwork in clean energy and climate progress.
First, the studies agree: renewable energy will continue on a strong growth trajectory for the next six years, nearly doubling today’s levels by 2021. It is especially remarkable that the four studies we surveyed reached similar conclusions about how much renewable generation is expected to grow because each relied on different model representations of the electricity sector and a range of input assumptions. Independent projections from Rhodium Group (RHG), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), M.J. Bradley & Associates (MJB&A) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) suggest that renewable capacity could nearly double between 2015 and 2021. As shown in the figure below, utility-scale capacity is expected to reach around 160 GW in 2021, compared with 88 GW at the end of 2015. And rooftop solar represents another source of strong expected growth, climbing from around 11 GW at the end of 2015 to around 40 GW in 2021.