Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectricity are rapidly increasing their share of the global power supply. Governments and businesses are recognizing the need to reduce carbon emissions in order to combat climate change, which is driving the demand for clean energy technologies. One critical policy lever that has been helping drive this trend in the United States is the adoption of Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) targets at the state and federal levels.
RPS programs mandate that a certain percentage of electricity sold within a state or country comes from renewable sources. The standard is usually set as a percentage of total electricity sales, with escalating targets over time. By setting such goals, governments can ensure that a growing share of their electricity will come from renewable energy sources and encourage the development of new renewable energy projects.
In the United States, 30 states and territories, as well as the District of Columbia, have implemented RPS standards. As of 2020, more than half (52%) of new electricity generating capacity in the country was from wind and solar. The growth in renewable energy has been especially dramatic over the past decade, with the proportion of renewable energy in the US electricity generation mix almost quadrupling since 2010.
Several states have taken a leadership role in moving towards a cleaner energy future. California, for example, has a goal of reaching 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. Meanwhile, New York has set a goal of obtaining 70% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
RPS goals have helped accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in several ways. By providing a long-term target for renewable energy deployment, the goals build investor confidence in the sector. They also provide a stable market for renewable energy projects, which can help to lower the cost of financing. By creating demand and competition for renewable energy, the policies encourage innovation and spur technological advances. Finally, by creating a clear signal about the transition to low-carbon energy, RPS targets can also help to shape public opinion and create political support for renewable energy.
The success of RPS programs has also fueled the growth of the renewable energy industry. Wind and solar power have become increasingly competitive with fossil fuels, driven in part by the lower costs of financing thanks to policies like RPS. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable power generation is expected to increase by 50% over the next five years, with solar and wind accounting for two-thirds of the increase.
In conclusion, RPS policies have been instrumental in driving the growth of renewable energy in the United States. States and territories with RPS targets have seen a significant boost in their renewable energy capacity, leading the way towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. As the global community comes together to address the challenge of climate change, policies like RPS will continue to play an important role in promoting a transition to low-carbon energy.