Forecasting the Growth of Green Power Markets in the United States

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Greater use of renewable energy offers the potential to reduce the environmental footprint of the electricity generation sector. Though many believe that state and federal renewable energy policy incentives and mandates will continue to play a crucial role in the deployment of renewable energy technologies, the recent introduction of customer choice in domestic electricity markets offers a complementary approach to encourage renewable electricity supply. In particular, green power marketing ― defined here as the marketing and sale of renewable electricity to end-use customers ― empowers consumers to choose electricity generated from sources that are less damaging to the environment and that may offer price stability in a time of increased electricity price volatility. In this report, we quantify the potential size and impact of the green power market in the United States, and identify features of the market that will most affect its ultimate growth trajectory. We do this through a 10-year forecast of market development under both low- and high-growth scenarios. In addition, we present four scenarios structured to gauge the sensitivity of our low- and high-growth forecasts to assumptions about green power product content, market penetration, and the fallout from the recent California power crisis. We base all forecasts on a detailed model of national green power demand that we developed specifically for this purpose. Our analysis emphasizes the impacts of green power demand on renewable energy development and air pollutant emissions. To develop our modeling assumptions, we review green power market research and experience to date and identify and discuss variables that will help determine market size and the rate of market development. We also examine the experiences of a select group of other industries that have undergone "deregulation" or that sell products with a high degree of environmental or health-related content. Data from these industries provides additional insights into the possible growth of, as well as the barriers to, green power demand.

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