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Sunday, June 14, 2009

New UCS Analysis Finds Waxman-Markey RES Won't Increase Clean Energy Deployment

By Michael Shellenberger. Originally posted at the Breakthough Institute

According to a new analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the combined efficiency and renewable electricity standard (CERES -- formerly RES) in the Waxman-Markey climate legislation will not increase renewable electricity generation and might actually reduce it.

UCS concludes:

"Bottom line: The Waxman-Markey RES does not ensure that any new renewable electricity will be developed beyond the renewables that are already projected to occur under the business as usual forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)."

UCS created a high-deployment and a low-deployment scenario to predict the impact of the CERES provision in Waxman-Markey, as compared to the EIA's business-as-usual (BAU) baseline projections of renewable electricity generation. Under the high-deployment scenario, the Waxman-Markey CERES provision "would lead to slightly more renewable energy to be developed than business as usual" -- but only starting in 2020.

UCS Analysis of RES - Scenarios.jpg
[Download the graphic and scenario descriptions here.]

Strikingly, in the low-deployment scenario, USC found that that CERES would actually result in less and declining renewables deployment (8.3% of sales in 2020 down to 7.3% in 2030) than under the EIA baseline (9.9% in 2020 rising to 11% in 2030). UCS concludes that, under Waxman Markey, the low-deployment scenario is the more probable scenario.

"In UCS' view, the amount is likely to be closer to the low renewable energy case, because of the economic incentives to use more energy efficiency and sell renewable energy credits, and because the W-M bill provides substantial economic incentives to build new CCS and nuclear facilities. The high case, in particular, is very implausible."

The UCS analysis is consonant with RES analyses by Breakthrough Institute, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (pdf), and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE).

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