Pennsylvania has developed a fast-growing clean energy economy, attracting billions in investment dollars for solar, wind, hydropower and other renewable energy technologies, according to a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Pew found that between 2009 and 2013, Pennsylvania added nearly 1.4 gigawatts of clean energy capacity and attracted $3.5 billion in private investment. In 2013, Pennsylvania ranked sixth nationally in attracting private investment in clean energy at $841 million.
New project installations over the next decade are expected to add five gigawatts of capacity and generate $17.7 billion in investment, Pew added.
The organization attributes much of the activity to the state’s 2004 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards, and to federal and state incentives.
“By setting a goal for renewable energy and offering incentives for clean energy projects, Pennsylvania has been able to attract private investment, create new jobs and diversify its energy mix,” said Tom Swanson, manager of Pew’s clean energy initiative.
The state’s Energy Portfolio Standards call for 18 percent of the state’s electricity to come from advanced energy sources by 2021 — eight percent from renewable power and the remaining 10 percent from other advanced technologies, including efficiency and innovations in fossil energy. Pew reported that because of this policy, solar power and industrial energy efficiency have grown rapidly — 212 megawatts and 3.3 gigawatts respectively since 2013.
State and federal incentives have also boosted clean energy. Today, wind energy and hydropower account for the majority of the state’s renewable capacity. Pennsylvania’s installed wind capacity is enough to power over 300,000 homes. Pennsylvania ranks ninth in homes powered by solar (nearly 25,000), 11th in capacity added in 2013, and 11th in jobs supported by the industry (2,900).
Industrial energy efficiency technologies — such as combined heat and power from a single fuel source, and reusing waste heat — are also in play. In 2013, Pennsylvania ranked sixth for total installed capacity of these technologies, eighth for capacity added that year and eighth for private investment in the sector.
Still, challenges remain. For example, Pew cited the import of electricity from out-of-state solar projects, “effectively outsourcing some of the economic benefits the standards were designed to generate in-state.”
Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts
Writer: Elise Vider