Solar power and wind energy in U.S. Renewable Energy Attractiveness

In 2011, American renewable energy investment in solar energy and wind power technologies dominated the global market, propelling the United States past China into the leadership position, according to Ernst & Young’s latest quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (CAI).

Ernst & Young LLP also issued a new forward-looking report — United States Renewable Attractiveness Indices — that benchmarks the US state investments that were the driving force behind this shift, offering insight into the nation’s diverse renewable energy markets, energy infrastructures and their suitability for individual technologies.

Most notably, the report highlights that, despite uncertain macroeconomic conditions, renewable energy – particularly in states like Massachusetts, Colorado, Texas, California and Hawaii – is positioned very favorably to benefit from future investments.

While California’s dominance of the All Renewables Index was anticipated, the top five rankings of states like Colorado, Massachusetts and Texas demonstrate a commitment to growing energy infrastructures across the nation.

For instance, New Mexico and Colorado came in second and third respectively in the “All Renewable Index” because of consistent growth and strong potential across all renewable energy technologies.

Massachusetts and Texas tied for fifth with a strong draw for solar and wind power investment respectively.

“The State Attractiveness Indices data enables us to look at specific states and regions and understand what they are doing with renewable energy development and infrastructure on a microscopic level,” said Michael Bernier, Senior Manager, National Tax, Ernst & Young LLP. “It enables us to fine-tune the discussion about the overall US market.

“Moreover, this report uncovers the new national leaders in energy infrastructure. Massachusetts, for example, is a top-five solar market due to a multitude of state-level initiatives, even though it is not the sunniest market. Like Colorado, Massachusetts is building up its research and development in addition to its manufacturing facilities. These factors make renewable energy development in these states possible and further investment probable.”

In addition to providing a baseline for future reports which will be released semiannually, the United States Renewable Attractiveness Indices looks at issues that will enhance or impair further development in the renewable energy markets, such as incentives like the Production Tax Credit, wind power’s key incentive.

The continuance of this tax credit would have a significant impact on what has become a thriving domestic manufacturing sector.