Obama sets 20% renewables target for US government by 2020

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President Obama has set all US government agencies a 20% renewable energy generation target by 2020.

Federal electricity use is expected to draw 7% from renewable sources for the fiscal year of 2013.

The US government is the largest energy consumer in the country.

The targets, which only apply to electricity consumption will be phased-in gradually. Agencies must draw not less than 10% of their electricity from renewables by 2015, 15% in 2016 and 2017, 17.5% in 2018 and 2019 and not less than 20% by 2020.

Departments are urged do so by funding and installing their own generation through on- or off-site renewables.

They can also purchasing power from third-party owned clean energy plants built at their request, by purchasing renewable power from the grid or by paying for renewable energy certificates.

All power must be from renewable sources less than 10 years old.

The target was mentioned in previous climate action speeches by the president but is now set in motion following yesterday’s Presidential Memo.

The US government is also looking to cut red tape for developers to site renewable energy generation on federal land. An auction for land in Colorado in October 2013 failed to attract any bids.

“We applaud President Obama for standing firm and following through on a key commitment he made as part of his Climate Action Plan,” said Rhone Resch, CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“America’s solar energy industry is doing its part, too. Today, solar is one of the fastest growing sources of new energy in the United States and recently surpassed 10GW of installed capacity in the United States – enough to power more than 1.7 million American homes. What’s more, this year we expect to bring more solar online than world leader Germany,” he added.

The announcement had left some in the industry concerned that changes to the current federal contracting rules could create fresh uncertainty. The US department of energy confirmed to PV Tech that the new targets would not change the existing structure however.

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