Obama Claims He Can Triple Green Energy Use By 2030

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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President Barack Obama has announced that current regulations and subsidies imposed by his administration will help triple the U.S.’s green energy capacity in just 15 years.

Obama made his announcement Tuesday alongside Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The White House promises no new regulations and subsidies will be needed to triple the country’s green energy capacity, and argues that EPA regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will do the trick.

“We believe that this is an ambitious target, but it’s one that’s actually achievable in a way that will actually create new, low-cost opportunities for the American economy,” Brian Deese, Obama’s top energy adviser, told reporters in a conference call. “But to achieve it, we’re going to have to continue to hit our marks in implementing the regulations that we’ve identified to date and providing those long-term incentives.”

Currently, the country gets about 7 percent of its electricity from green energy sources, including electricity generated by biomass. Most of U.S. green energy production comes from wind power and less than half a percent comes from solar power. But most of the increase in green energy has come with the help of generous government subsidies and mandates.

The question is, can Obama’s regulatory agenda get the U.S. to triple its green energy capacity by 2030?

The Energy Information Administration, however, predicts the EPA’s CO2 regulation will cause green energy capacity to grow by about 175 gigawatts by 2040 — but growth could be higher or lower based on other factors. EIA reported in June that the Clean Power Plan could yield “283 gigawatts (GW) of cumulative additions of renewable electricity generation capacity are added through 2040” — which is way above most of the predictions made in the following chart.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Currently, the U.S. has about 100 gigawatts of installed green energy capacity, meaning EPA regulations alone could get the U.S. to Obama’s goal by 2030 based on EIA’s baseline assessment. Though, what actually happens could be quite different depending on how the final EPA rule is written and implemented.

EIA’s analysis assumes the EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” will remain intact — it could be struck down by federal courts or even be altered by future administrations. EIA data shows the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is key to rapidly increasing green energy capacity. The Hill reported in May that EIA data showed green energy “capacity under [EPA’s rule] would grow 160 percent above what it would otherwise be by 2040, at 174 gigawatts.”

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