U.S. Renewables Portfolio Standards 2021 Status Update: Early Release

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Berkeley Lab’s annual status report on U.S. renewables portfolio standards (RPS) provides an overview of key trends associated with U.S. state RPS policies. The report, published in slide-deck form, describes recent legislative revisions, key policy design features, compliance with interim targets, past and projected impacts on renewables development, and compliance costs.

The 2021 Early Release, published in lieu of a 2020 edition, presents historical data through year-end 2019, with some limited results for the year 2020.  Key trends from this edition of the report include the following:

  • Evolution of state RPS programs: States continue to refine and revise their RPS policies. Among other significant changes since the start of 2019, eight states enacted higher RPS targets or created new clean-energy/zero-carbon targets (AZ, DC, MD, NM, NV, VA, WA), in most cases setting targets equal to at least 50% of retail sales.
  • Historical impacts on renewables development: Roughly half of all growth in U.S. renewable electricity (RE) generation and capacity since 2000 is associated with state RPS requirements, though that percentage has declined in recent years, representing 23% of all U.S. RE capacity additions in 2019. However, within particular regions—namely, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic—RPS policies continue to serve a central role in motivating RE growth.
  • Future RPS demand and incremental needs: RPS demand growth through 2030 will require roughly 90 GW of new RE capacity and will require total U.S. non-hydro RE generation to reach 17% of electricity sales (compared to 12% in 2019). Relative to EIA projections, this amounts to roughly one-third of projected RE growth over the next decade.
  • RPS target achievement to-date: States have generally met their interim RPS targets in recent years, with only a few exceptions reflecting unique, state-specific issues.
  • REC pricing trends: Prices for NEPOOL Class I RECs rose steeply over 2019, reaching $40/MWh and remaining at roughly that level over 2020. PJM Tier I REC prices continued to rise at a modest pace over the course of 2020, reaching $10/MWh by year-end. Prices for solar RECs remained relatively stable over 2020, and continue to exhibit wide variation across states, with the highest prices ($200-450/MWh) in NJ, MA, and DC.
  • RPS compliance costs and cost caps: RPS compliance costs in 2019 averaged roughly 2.6% of retail electricity bills in RPS states, compared to 2.3% in 2018, with costs in most states ranging from 0.5% to 4.5% of retail electricity bills.

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The most recent version of the RPS report and data files can be accessed via the project page found here.


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