NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The United States Among World Leaders in Renewable Energy Investment

April 9, 2015

From 2007 to 2011, average battery costs for battery-powered electric vehicles fell by nearly 14 percent each year. For the leading electric vehicle makers, Tesla and Nissan, costs fell by 8 percent each year. This astounding decline puts battery costs right around the level the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted they would reach in 2020.

Consider these recent trends:

  • Battery prices per kilowatt-hour have fallen from about $550 in 2011 to about $450 today.
  • Global investment in renewable energy, which had dipped a bit between 2011 and 2013, rebounded in 2014 to a near all-time high of $270 billion.

However, in the past year, the price of gasoline has fallen as well, and is now in the $2.50 range even in expensive markets. The Swedish researchers believe that Tesla's new factories will be able to achieve the 30 percent cost reduction the company promises, simply from economies of scale and incremental improvements in the manufacturing process. That, combined with a rebound in gas prices to the $3 range, would be enough to make battery-powered vehicles an economic alternative to internal combustion vehicles in most regions. 

The amount of renewable energy capacity added in 2014 was easily an all-time high. China, the United States and Japan are leading the way in renewable investment. Renewables went from 8.5 percent to 9.1 percent of global electricity generation just in 2014. 

Source: Noah Smith, "Clean Energy Revolution Is Ahead of Schedule," BloombergView, April 8, 2015. 


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