Renewable energy certainly had a model year in 2012, but what’s the future look for solar, wind, and natural gas?
In the U.S., new solar capacity reached nearly 2,000 MW, and wind capacity reached 6,519 NW, just edging out gas capacity and more than doubling new coal installations.
As great as those numbers look, there are some looming clouds for renewables. The wind industry faces the loss of valuable tax credit if it is not renewed in 2013. “According to the Financial Times, total investment in wind and solar in 2012 may well fall compared to 2011– the first time that’s happened in nearly a decade.”
But both wind and solar are becoming more competitive against fossil fuels with solar modules being 75 percent less expensive compared to four years ago, and the cost of wind turbines have fallen by 25 percent over the last three years. This was largely due to technological advances that have driven down the cost of renewable energy, making it more affordable for smaller businesses.
While there are still hurdles ahead for renewable energy, there’s still an enormous market for new electricity generation, utility savings, and public support. “2013 may not be as good for renewables as 2012 – a lot will depend on how the larger global economy fares but we won’t be going backward.”