IEA policy review highlights leadership of United States on energy security and clean energy transitions

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Major energy and climate initiatives have led to a clean energy investment boom, supporting progress toward energy security, affordability and decarbonisation goals

The United States has made significant strides in its efforts to ensure a secure, sustainable and affordable energy system in recent years thanks to government actions that have helped unleash a surge in clean energy investment, according to the IEA’s latest review of US energy policies.

The United States 2024: Energy Policy Review, published today, provides an assessment of US policies and their implications for the country’s energy and climate goals. It finds that the United States’ clean energy economy is expanding as the federal government works to build diverse and resilient energy supply chains with the aim of increasing energy security and establishing the nation as a global leader in clean technology manufacturing. However, meeting the country’s energy and climate goals and anticipating emerging risks will require a focus on robust implementation.

Over the past four years, the United States has seen a nearly 60% surge in clean energy investment – leading to the creation of more than 310 000 jobs in the sector, according to the report. A hub for technological innovation, it is now a major market for renewables, batteries and electric vehicles, among other clean energy technologies. It is also using energy more efficiently. Last year, the rate of energy efficiency improvements in the United States reached 4%, supporting progress toward the global goal of doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030 agreed at the COP28 climate change conference in December.

At the same time, the United States continues to play a vital role in upholding global energy security as the world’s largest oil and gas producer. Oil and gas exports, which are expected to continue to grow in the coming years, have eased pressure on global markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) remains a cornerstone of domestic and global oil security and is a key pillar of the IEA’s oil stockholding system.

The IEA regularly conducts peer reviews of the energy policies of its member countries and provides key recommendations – a process that supports energy policy development and encourages the exchange of international best practices and experiences. This latest review shows that net greenhouse gas emissions in the United States – which is the second-largest energy consumer and carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter globally – fell by 18% between 2005 and 2022, reflecting robust energy efficiency improvements and clean energy investment, notably in renewables and energy storage.

Following the implementation in recent years of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), decarbonisation of the US energy system is accelerating. The IEA projects that the BIL and the IRA could deliver substantial greenhouse gas reductions across the economy, with the US government seeking to lower these emissions 50% to 52% from 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve a net zero energy system by 2050. Roadmaps and milestones to reach these targets are visible in all sectors, according to the report. However, they are not yet fully underpinned by policies for implementation, funding and programmes.

Affordability, equity and high-quality jobs are at the heart of government energy policy, and many BIL and IRA initiatives and investments benefit disadvantaged communities and aim to build up a strong base of skilled workers and quality jobs.

In the power sector, the report finds that the US government has recently adopted a number of important policies, including the clean electricity tax credits under the IRA and measures to speed up the connection of renewables, such as improved permitting and electricity interconnections. These reforms are poised to drive the share of renewable energy in the power mix from 22% in 2023 to 34% by 2028 – though further efforts are needed to reach the goal of 100% carbon-free electricity generation by 2035.

The United States is also increasing investment in nuclear power production, low-carbon fuels and battery storage capacity. The latter already saw a sixfold increase over the past four years.

In its recommendations, the report emphasises the importance of policy clarity in maintaining investor confidence, and encourages the United States to strengthen federal programmes that can improve affordability, clean energy manufacturing, energy security and innovation. The report also recommends expanding work with international partners in the areas of people-centred clean energy transitions and energy security, including a focus on emerging risks related to critical minerals, clean energy supply chains, nuclear fuel, and the resilience of energy infrastructure to extreme weather and climate hazards.