In the U.S., 50 percent of all installed renewable power capacity is located in the 13 western states, and includes 70 percent of all solar capacity and 100 percent of all geothermal capacity, according to a new report from the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).
The report Renewable Energy in the 50 States: Western Region, which was released on Nov. 5, examines the status of energy policies and programs, investments and market openness in the clean energy sector in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
According to the report, the western renewable energy sector attracted nearly half of the country's combined venture capital, private equity, and asset finance investment, and produced roughly one third of the region's total electricity generation – compared to about 13 percent nationally.
"Renewable energy is more affordable today than ever before, and ACORE is excited to report on ways in which the western U.S. is taking advantage of its immense renewable resources," Lesley Hunter, lead author of the report and director of research and programs at ACORE, said in a statement. "From California's 50 [percent] RPS to Nevada's sub-four cent [power purchase agreement] signed this year for a solar project, 2015 has been a major year for renewables in the West."
The report said that California in 2014 attracted more clean energy investments than any other state at $5.2 billion. In addition, Arizona had the second highest solar capacity in the region, but installed only half the amount of solar capacity in 2014 than it installed in the prior year.
For the 13 western states, according to the report, the Clean Power Plan sets a combined final emissions rate goal of 11,442 lb/MWh by 2030, and a final mass goal of 221.5 million short tons by 2030.
“Given the interdependency of the western grid, it is likely that western states will explore development of a regional, rather than state-by-state, compliance plan,” the report said. “A regional plan would likely be more cost effective and enable states to access high-impact and lower-cost carbon reductions in other states.”