WASHINGTON, DC — The Recovery Act has kept the country on track to halve the cost of solar power and has helped lay the foundation to double renewable energy generation in the U.S., according to a White House report.
"The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy through Innovation" looks at how the $100 billion in reinvestment funds from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is affecting solar power costs, electric vehicle battery production and renewable energy, as well as high-speed rail, electronic health records and human genome projects.
The report especially credits the Recovery Act funds for positioning the U.S. to meet President Barack Obama's goal to double the amount of renewable energy the U.S. can generate along with how much renewable energy equipment it can produce by 2012.
Nearly a quarter of the reinvestment funds are going toward those goals, pumping $23 billion into renewable energy projects. Doubling renewable energy generation from wind, solar and geothermal projects would see the U.S. go from producing 28.8 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy to 57.6 GW. In doubling the production of wind turbines, solar panels and other equipment, the country would move from making enough equipment each year to produce 6 GW to enough to generate 12 GW.
The Recovery Act is also helping the U.S. cut the cost of solar power in half between 2009 and 2015. Through investments in new technologies and increasing the scale of solar manufacturing and deployment, the U.S. is looking to see the cost of solar power drop from $0.21 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2009 to $0.10 per kWh in 2015, which would bring the price down to household electricity rates. Utility-scale solar projects are expected to drop from $0.13 per kWh to $0.06 in the same timeframe.
More than $2 billion from the act is being invested in advanced battery and electric drive manufacturing with the intent of bringing down the cost of electric vehicle batteries by 70 percent by 2015. All-electric vehicle batteries would go from $33,000 to $10,000 while plug-in hybrid batteries would cost $4,000 instead of the current $13,000.
Along with bringing down costs, the Recovery Act funds are going toward making batteries lighter by about 33 percent and making them last 14 years as opposed to four years.
Last year the U.S. had two factories making advanced vehicle batteries, producing less than 2 percent of the world's vehicle batteries. By 2012, the report says, the country will have 30 factories capable of producing 20 percent of the world's vehicle batteries.
Solar installation - CC license by Flickr user Wayne National Forest