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可再生能源大热,如何实现可持续发展?

Gregory Wetstone 2019年07月08日

一项调查发现,人们未来三年对可再生能源的短期增长信心十足,而且对能源储存有强烈需求。

得克萨斯州阿德里安高速公路旁的一个风力发电厂。私人投资者为太阳能和风能等可再生能源兴奋不已,但他们需要从现在起开始关注能源存储。图片来源:Paul Harris—Getty Images

可再生能源是如今最吸引美国公司的投资选择之一。问问星巴克就知道了,该公司最近刚签了合同,为3000家咖啡店提供风能、太阳能等清洁电力。

我们对美国主要金融机构的最新调查中发现,美国企业和全球投资者正在不断提升对低碳产品的投入。调查发现,人们未来三年对可再生能源的短期增长信心十足,而且对能源储存有强烈需求。

当被问及为什么看好可再生能源的前景时,受访者表示,可再生能源成本低,各州对可再生能源使用比例的要求提高,企业需求增加,碳排放可能另立新法,人们希望从即将到期的税收抵免中获益等。

然而,尽管短期内发展势头强劲,但人们对该行业2022年后的预期增长率却不那么确定。为了维持增长,可再生能源行业需要一个现代化的电网;电力市场要充分认识到灵活、无污染的可再生能源的价值;税法需要为该行业提供公平的竞争环境。

一年前,美国可再生能源委员会(ACORE)发起了“1万亿美元2030年”行动($1T 2030 campaign),旨在推动美国私营部门于2030年前在可再生能源及电网技术领域投资1万亿美元。今天,我很高兴地通报诸位,开局良好,上述目标可以实现。

尽管贸易局势紧张、美国国内电力需求低迷、政治环境存在不利因素,但2018年私营部门在可再生能源和电网技术上投资近570亿美元。这些资金大部分都流向了陆上风能和太阳能项目。然而,对电网技术(例如能源存储)的投资并未达到应有水平,尽管投资者和企业正在决定为这些重要的新增电网项目估值和融资的最佳方式,行业的快速发展似乎近在咫尺。

实现这一目标所需的驱动性政策和市场改革也取得了进展。政府间气候变化专门委员会的科学家在去年发布的报告中的惊人事实刺激了政府,我们看到多个州正在采用更加激进的可再生能源配额标准,包括加州、夏威夷、内华达、华盛顿、新墨西哥以及最近的纽约都正在加速实现100%可再生能源或无碳化目标。

在过去几个月内,政府出台了多项可能对可再生能源行业产生重要影响的联邦立法提案。这些提案包括推出新的能源储存税收抵免政策,以推动实现电网的现代化;制定远大的可再生能源和清洁能源标准,以进一步扩大现有进展;对碳排放进行联邦定价,以计算温室气体排放在经济中的真实财务成本;对无碳发电实行技术中立的税收抵免等。驱动性政策和市场改革取得的上述进展,加上商业和居民用户对可再生能源需求的增长,以及风力和太阳能发电成本的迅速降低(目前风能和太阳能是美国许多地区最便宜的电力来源),将推动该行业实现我们的投资目标。

有了真正重视可再生能源经济和社会效益的明智政策,我们可以加快向可再生能源经济的转型,为美国人民创造他们应得的清洁能源未来。(财富中文网)

格雷戈里·维特斯通是美国可再生能源委员会的董事长和首席执行官。

译者:Agatha

Renewable energy is one of the most attractive investment options for American companies today. Just ask Starbucks, which recently contracted for enough wind and solar power to supply 3,000 of its coffee shops with clean electricity.

American businesses and global investors are increasingly turning to a low-carbon portfolio—a fact reflected in our new survey of the nation’s leading financial institutions, which found high near-term confidence for renewable energy growth over the next three years and a strong appetite for energy storage.

When asked their reasons for this bullish outlook, survey respondents cited the low cost of renewable energy, expanded requirements that states derive a certain portion of their energy from renewable sources, increased demand from corporations, the potential for new carbon legislation, and a desire to benefit from sunsetting tax credits.

Yet while the near-term outlook is strong, the expected rate of growth after 2022 is less certain. In order to stay on track, the renewable sector will need a modernized grid; electricity markets that fairly recognize the value of flexible, pollution-free renewable power; and a level playing field in the tax code.

One year ago, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) launched its $1T 2030 campaign to promote $1 trillion in U.S. private sector investment in renewable energy and enabling grid technologies by 2030. Today, I’m pleased to report that we have made a credible start and this goal remains within reach.

Despite trade tensions, flat national electricity demand, and a challenging political climate, the private sector invested nearly $57 billion in renewable energy and enabling grid technologies in 2018. The bulk of this capital is flowing to onshore wind and solar projects. However, investment in enabling grid technologies, such as energy storage, is not where it should be, even as we seem to be on the verge of a boom as investors and businesses determine the best ways to value and finance these important additions to our grid.

Progress on the policy drivers and market reforms necessary to achieve this objective is underway. Spurred by a dire report last year from the scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we’ve seen the adoption of ambitious renewable portfolio standards in multiple states, with California, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, New Mexico, and, most recently, New York all stepping up to 100% renewable or carbon-free goals.

Over the past several months, a number of federal legislative proposals have been introduced that could have vitally important impacts for the renewable sector. These bills include a new tax credit for energy storage to help modernize the grid, ambitious national renewable and clean energy standards to expand the progress being made in the states, a federal price on carbon emissions to account for the true financial cost of greenhouse gas emissions across the economy, and a technology-neutral tax credit for carbon-free electricity generation. Progress on these policy drivers and market reforms, combined with the growing demand for renewable power from commercial and residential consumers and dramatic decreases in the cost of wind and solar power, which are now the cheapest sources of electricity in many parts of the country, will propel the sector toward achievement of our investment goal.

With smart policies that truly value the economic and societal benefits of renewable power, we can accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy and provide Americans the clean energy future they deserve.

Gregory Wetstone is the president and CEO of ACORE.

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