Energy & Environment

Renewable energy industry warns of ‘concerning’ impact of regulatory uncertainty

Regulatory uncertainty could restrain the growth of the renewable energy industry in the coming years, according to a trade group’s annual report. 

In its 2021 report, released Tuesday, the American Clean Power Association said about 10 gigawatts (GW) of the renewable energy capacity set to go online last year was delayed. 

“Looking into 2022 and beyond, inflation, supply chain issues, and the uncertainty of tax policy and lack of predictable regulatory action for renewable energy are all expected to have a concerning impact on our ability to deliver growth,” the report stated.  

The report also pointed to the likelihood of continued uncertainty within the industry, specifically citing the ongoing Commerce Department investigation into potential tariff circumvention by Southeast Asian solar panel part manufacturers. The Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar industry’s primary trade group, has reduced its installation projections by half in response to the investigation.  

The trade group attributed the delays to a combination of lack of policy clarity, interconnection backlogs and supply chain problems. 

The report also indicated that transmission is a potential hurdle for the renewable energy industry, stating that 1,400 miles of transmission lines were brought online in 2020, compared to less than 300 last year.

But the report also found some cause for celebration in the industry. American Clean Power Association CEO Heather Zichal wrote that as of the end of 2021, America had over 200 GW of utility-scale renewable storage, after adding more than 28 GW to the grid over the previous year.  

Wind and solar currently provide 13 percent of American electricity needs, Zichal added, and renewable energy projects or manufacturing facilities exist in all 50 states and 93 percent of congressional districts. A handful of states got more than 20 percent of their electricity from wind power, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Maine. 

However, she wrote, “[m]aintaining last year’s project volume would provide only 35 percent of what’s needed to reach a net zero grid by 2035. The climate crisis gets more urgent by the day, and these challenges need to be faced directly and swiftly.” 

Tags Heather Zichal Renewable energy

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