U.S. on track to double renewable energy capacity: Biden

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. government stimulus spending has put the country on track to double renewable energy production capacity by 2012 and halve solar power costs by 2015, Vice President Joseph Biden said on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama’s stimulus spending poured $814 billion into the U.S. economy, including more than $100

Reuters – Solar panels sit on the roof of SunPower Corporation in Richmond, California March 18, 2010.

billion for science, technology and innovation projects.

With Energy Secretary Steven Chu by his side, Biden unveiled a new White House report estimating the impact of the Recovery Act funding on American innovation in transportation, renewable energy, broadband, smart electrical grids and medical research.

Biden said the stimulus funding would lead to breakthroughs in many of those areas.

“The government plants the seeds. The private sector nourishes and makes it grow,” Biden said. “And in the process, if we’re as innovative as we’ve been in the past, we launch entire new industries.”

The report outlined a goal of doubling renewable energy capacity from the 28.8 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal sources installed as of the end of 2008 to 57.6 GW by the end of 2011, which would be enough to power 16.7 million homes, or 55 million electric cars, for a year.

The manufacturing goal is to double the 2008 level of output of 6 GW of renewable equipment like wind turbines and solar panels to 12 GW at the end of 2011.

Solar power now accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. electricity generation, while wind power produces almost 2 percent.

The cost of solar power is expected to be on par with common grid electricity by 2015, while the cost of electric car batteries is expected to fall by 70 percent between 2009 and 2015 and be competitive with common car batteries.

In May, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the U.S. stimulus money put up to 2.8 million people to work and raised U.S. gross domestic product by up to 4.2 percent, but predicted the impact would taper off in 2011 and 2012, after peaking later this year.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Walter Bagley)

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