Utility efficiency investment hits record levels


Despite volatile weather, and a rise in GDP, the US electricity sector continued to improve on its carbon intensity levels through 2018.

And despite these two factors directly leading to an increase in economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency investments have reached new heights.

That’s according to a new report published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).

The report shows that several states are adopting new building energy efficiency codes, and total national spending on efficiency measures through formal frameworks climbed to a record level of $15 billion during the year.

Gas capacity accounted for a record 35% of the country’s electricity generation, whilst natural gas hit record production highs of more than 82 billion cubic feet per day. Renewables installations reached 19.5GW in 2018, with solar representing a combined 11.6GW, and wind at 7.5GW.

The US also added 142MW of hydroelectric, 103MW of new biomass and waste-to-energy and 53MW of geothermal energy generation during that year.

Businesses from various sectors including technology firms, retailers and even an oil major contracted record volumes of renewable power, with many others committing to double energy productivity or to transition to green vehicle fleets.

According to the report, the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) increased dramatically – whilst 1.3% of total vehicles sold in the 4th quarter of 2017 were electric, this number was more than doubled to 3% by the fourth quarter of 2018.

This increase has been partly attributed to the drop in price of lithium-ion batteries, as prices dropped 18% year-on-year, boosting both EV and stationary storage applications and further encouraging the adoption of intermittent renewables.

Ethan Zindler, BNEF’s Head of Americas, said: “More coal plants closing and being replaced by cleaner sources of power marked a key trend that continued in 2018.

“However, the overall jump in carbon dioxide emissions during 2018 is a clear reminder that technological advancements on their own cannot address the climate challenge. Strong, supportive policies are needed at the local, state, as well as federal level.”

To download the report, click here…