North and South America Renewable Energy Policy Handbook 2010

The US Emerges As the Top Producer of Renewable Energy in North and South America. The US has surpassed other countries in North and South America in terms of developing its renewable energy industry. At the end of 2009, the country had an installed renewable energy capacity of 53.4 Gigawatts (GW).

The US also had the largest installed wind power capacity globally and the third highest solar photovoltaic installed capacity globally, after Spain and Germany. The country’s installed wind farm capacity grew at an AAGR of 29.7% during the period 2000-2009 and is expected to further grow at an AAGR of 17.2% during the period 2009-2015.

The solar PV capacity of the US increased at an AAGR of 27.5% between 2000 and 2009. The capacity is expected to further increase at an AAGR of 34.4% during the period 2009-2015.

The growth of renewable in the US has been driven by the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Although there are no Federal RPS targets, the different levels of RPS set by the US state governments have given a big boost to the renewable energy industry in the country.

Production Tax Credit (PTC) is another important policy instrument that has helped in the development of the renewable energy sector in the US. PTCs have also helped in increasing the wind power capacity in the US, enabling the country to emerge as the largest windfarm  installer in the world.

Other incentives such as business and residential tax credits, loans, grants and accelerated depreciation provisions have also provided support to develop renewable energy in the country. In addition to these federal policies, different state governments also offer various state level policies and incentives for the promotion of renewable energy.

he US renewable energy industry has hugely benefited from the recent policies and renewable energy regulations. Some US states plan to exceed the RPS targets to generate 10% of their total electricity from renewable energy by 2012 and 25% by 2025.

In 2009, the enactment of long-term production tax credits (wind turbines) and investment tax credits (solar) drove investments in the US. To reach the specified targets, the US attracted $18.6 billion in investments in 2009, which is the largest investment in renewable energy after China $7.4 billion was invested in renewable energy in Brazil in 2009.

Renewable energy policies such as PROINFA (Program of Incentives for Alternative Electricity Sources – Programa de Incentivo a Fontes Alternativas de Energia Elétrica) and National Alcohol Program PROALCOOL have helped to attract large scale investments. However, the policies need to be better executed to meet the targets set under various plans.

There is an ongoing shift towards renewable energy sources throughout mainly due to volatile conventional energy markets and an emphasis on cutting down carbon emissions.

As a result investments in renewable energy is growing in North America. This report provides the policies and regulatory frameworks for renewable energy sector in North and South America. This report highlights the differences and focus of the renewable energy policy frameworks in the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

A case study of a successful renewable energy policy is analysed mapping out the key success factors. The report also provides a view on the future renewable energy policy, drivers and challenges for achieving a renewable energy target.