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The US Energy Policy Act of 2005 will impact the applications and R & D efforts for every type of renewable energy source. A part of the bill has the stated purpose of achieving energy self-sufficiency by the year 2025 within the US, Canada, and Mexico. This bill also has provisions for anyone wishing to connect to the existing power grid at the distribution level and sell power to a utility or other entity including incentives for generation of electricity from certain types of sources. This paper will provide a comprehensive review and describe the impact this bill has on several types of renewable energy presently being considered for practical applications, its effect on the electricity market, national electrical grid, and perhaps the future of how electricity will be delivered in the US under the US Energy Policy Act of 2005.

In 2003 there were a total of 15,756 generators in the United States with a combined nameplate capacity of 1.031x106 MW. Figure 1 depicts the breakdown. In 2003 all the electrical generation in the US produced a combined total energy of 3.88 x 1012 kWh.

It is interesting to note that while nuclear installed (MW) capacity is only 11% of total generation capacity it produced 21% of the nation’s energy and coal is only 32% of the installed capacity but produced 54% of the nation’s energy. Coal and nuclear sources alone made up 75% of the total energy consumed in the US.

The generation capacity and corresponding energy production requires an understanding of “capacity factor.” The annual capacity factor can be defined as the actual energy produced by a power plant in a given year divided by the maximum energy it could produce if its generators operated 24 hours a day for 365 days a year (100% of the time). Capacity factors can vary from one fuel to another for several reasons. Nuclear and coal plants, as an example, are used for base loading since they cannot be turned “on” and “off” quickly. These units are also typically much larger in size (ranges between 400-1200MVA).

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 and it’s Impact on Renewable Energy Applications in the USA