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Ernst & Young: Renewables make up almost half of new energy capacity

Ernst & Young solar investmentErnst & Young reported today that renewable energy accounted for almost half of all new energy generation capacity installed in the United States in 2012.

That’s particularly significant when cities are making regular announcements about shutting down coal-fired power plans in favor of natural gas generation.

More than 49 percent of new generation was wind, solar or other renewable energy in 2012.

New renewable energy generation installed in 2012 hit an all-time record high in the U.S. last year despite a slightly lower financial investment in it, according to the Ernst & Young report.

“What’s important to note is that the $44.2 billion invested is not representative of the industry’s true expansion,” said Michael Bernier, senior manager of the national tax decision of Ernst & Young. “Solar technology, for example, is increasingly cost effective. As prices fall, the initial investment goes a lot further. $1 billion installs a lot more solar than it did five years ago.”

Solar investment in the U.S was at its highest level in history and the country installed 11 percent of all solar installed globally in 2012, according to the report. That’s the U.S.’ highest market share in solar in at least 15 years, according to the report.

Spread between distributed residential and commercial systems and utility-scale solar development, the U.S. installed 3,313 megawatts of solar in 2012. There was an impressive 13,124 megawatts of wind generation installed in 2012.

In addition to analyzing the renewable energy market domestically and internationally, Ernst & Young measures the attractiveness of solar and other renewable energy investments in different states and ranks the states.

“With some shake-up in the top 10 rankings, California is once again leading the nation in renewable energy,” according to the report. “However, some states are not far behind the golden state. Texas, for example, remains the king of the wind installed base.”

California has been investing heavily in transmission and has maintained a favorable regulatory environment for renewable energy.

The Ernst & Young top five states are as follows:

All renewables index
1. California
2. Hawaii
3. Texas
3. Colorado
5. Nevada

Long-term wind index
1. Texas
2. Colorado
2. Illinois
2. Iowa
5. California

Long-term solar index
1. California
2. Hawaii
3. Nevada
4. New Mexico
5. Colorado

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