Efficiency, Natural Gas, Renewables Transforming US Energy
US renewable energy capacity doubles, natural gas rises to meet nearly 1/3 of
electricity demand, efficiency drives a 6% improvement in energy use, and CO2
emissions drop 13% in just the past five years, new report finds
NEW YORK & WASHINGTON -- January 31, 2013
The US is consuming energy considerably more efficiently and with lower
emissions than just five years ago thanks to a slew of modern technologies
that are changing decades-old patterns, research firm Bloomberg New Energy
Finance and industry group the Business Council for Sustainable Energy find in
a new report.
The Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook portrays a dynamic and rapidly
changing US energy landscape. Natural gas and renewables have gained market
share largely at the expense of conventional resources. Energy efficiency is
also making a major impact, and as a result energy demand has fallen steeply.
From 2007 to 2012, natural gas rose to 27.2% of total energy consumption
(including electricity, heat, and transportation) from 23.4%, while renewables
including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower have jumped to 9.4% from 6.4%.
Meanwhile, during the same period, coal declined to 18.1% from 22.5% and oil
fell to 36.7% from 39.3%. The winner of all this is U.S. emissions. From 2007
to 2012, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions declined 13%.
“Significant changes are occurring in the US energy sector that are boosting
investment and accelerating deployment of a range of commercially available
clean technologies,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of Business Council for
Sustainable Energy. “The 2013 Factbook outlines these dynamics and provides
the very latest data, not just on how much is being invested or how much is
getting built, but on today's costs for these technologies. Our hope is that
the report serves as a useful tool for policymakers and investors seeking the
very best benchmarks in the energy sector.”
The complete report and associated materials are available at
The Factbook highlights how energy efficiency is increasingly becoming a
priority, particularly among large power consumers such as manufacturers who
are being ever more cost-conscious. US utility budgets for efficiency
expenditures reached $7 billion in 2011 (the latest available date for which
data exists), and financing for energy efficiency retrofits has become
increasingly sophisticated, propelling further greening of U.S. buildings.
Since 1980, energy intensity of commercial buildings has fallen by more than
40%. Overall, energy demand decreased by 6.4% from 2007 to 2012 largely due to
efficiency gains and despite economic growth.
Renewable energy sources are being built quickly while renewable energy
production costs are plummeting. The total installed renewable capacity has
more than doubled in the five years between 2008 and 2012. The cost of
electricity generated by average large solar power plants has fallen from 31
cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009 to 14 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2012
(excluding the effect of tax credits and other incentives, which would bring
those costs down even lower). Over the same period, the cost of power from a
typical large wind farm has decreased from 9 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009
to 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Evolution of the transport sector mirrors that of power, prompted by advances
in technology and new fuel economy requirements. Sales for hybrids and plug-in
vehicles reached 488,000 units in 2012 and natural gas use in the transport
sector increased by 26% over 2008-11.
“These new energy technologies, which some still claim aren't ready for prime
time, are already making a major impact on US energy,” said Ethan Zindler,
Head of Policy Analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “And the US has only
begun to receive the full benefit of lower prices for clean energy equipment."
The Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg New Energy Finance
created the Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook to arm policymakers,
journalists and industry professionals with up-to-date, accurate market
intelligence. The report looks at clean energy broadly — from natural gas to
large-scale renewables including hydropower, to distributed power, to
demand-side energy efficiency — and is quantitative and objective.
ABOUT BLOOMBERG NEW ENERGY FINANCE
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) is the world’s definitive source of
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ABOUT BUSINESS COUNCIL FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY
The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) is a coalition of companies
and trade associations from the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable
energy sectors. The Council membership also includes independent electric
power producers, investor-owned utilities, public power, commercial end-users
and project developers and service providers for environmental markets. BCSE
members provided BNEF with additional datasets for use in this report. For
more information on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, please visit
The Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook was commissioned by the
Business Council for Sustainable Energy and supported by the generous
contributions of the following BCSE members: American Gas Association,
American Wind Energy Association, Center for Environmental Innovation in
Roofing, First Solar, Ingersoll Rand, Johnson Controls, North American
Insulation Manufacturers Association, Northern California Power Agency,
Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association, Sacramento Municipal
Utility District, Sempra Energy and Solar Turbines.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance
Angela Martin, +1-415-617-7142
Business Council for Sustainable Energy
Colbie Holderness, +1-202-301-0608
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