The United States is challenged by exorbitant energy demands, accounting for 26 percent of the world’s energy consumption, and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the nation imports nearly 30 percent of the energy it consumes, and minimal reduction in imports is anticipated to 2020. While trying to address the issue of energy dependence on foreign supply in light of forecasted unremitting growth in energy consumption, the United States has embarked on its most aggressive movement toward a sustainable future. Renewable energy, greater efficiency in consumption, and more intelligent transmission and distribution methods will be the main focuses for overcoming the energy challenges that lay ahead.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan's (energy.frost.com) U.S. Energy Challenges for 2020 research finds that United States energy consumption will increase by 7.3 percent during a 10-year period over 2010 levels. To meet this mounting need, the market has witnessed strong growth in renewable technologies, which has been supported by the focus on domestic energy production and sustainability. Solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power are the fastest growing renewable technologies and will represent more than 40 percent of electricity generation in 2020.
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According to the Department of Energy, 223 gigawatts (GW) of new generating capacity will be needed between 2010 and 2035. Local transmission infrastructure capability, currently in the process of being upgraded to withstand increasing loads and new forms of generation, is an important requirement to deploy large renewable energy projects that also meet the necessary GW capacity. Additionally, the transmission line shortage is threatening to slow the growth of wind energy and large utility-scale solar projects, and could prevent some states from meeting renewable energy mandates. High capital costs further challenge renewable technologies growth, highlighting the industry's need for government financial incentives.
"Increased energy consumption over the forecast period of 2010 to 2020 is driven by increases in population and economic growth,” said Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Georgina Benedetti. "The population in the United States is projected to increase by 7.5 percent from 2011 levels, reaching 324 million by 2020.”
Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was one of the main drivers for solar installations during 2010 and 2011, but the market has taken a recent hit with the failure of Congress to extend Section 1603 of the Treasury Program. Similarly, while expiration of the Loan Guarantee, production tax credit, and investment tax credit programs are imminent; these items fueled a 33 percent increase in wind energy in 2011 from prior year's levels. The market is vulnerable to a severe halt in production if these incentives are not extended.
To combat U.S. energy challenges, the industry has focused on the acceleration of renewable energy deployment and use of energy efficiency to displace imports and improve the balance between supply and demand. Supporting this movement is the technology trend of innovating to zero, where companies are focusing their R&D on more zero-emission technologies, such as wind power, geothermal energy, solar PV, and biomass.
"U.S. gross domestic production per capita is projected to increase 17.1 percent by 2020,” said Benedetti. "With the anticipated recovery of the American economy, an improvement in the standard of living is expected, which is linked to increased uses of electronics and domestic appliances that further increase the country's energy consumption.”
U.S. Energy Challenges for 2020 is part of the Energy & Power Systems Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: Analysis of the Underground Transmission and Distribution Cables Market, Analysis of the Global Uninterruptible Power Supplies Market, and Analysis of the North American Advanced Meter Infrastructure Market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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U.S. Energy Challenges for 2020 / NA86-14