With all of the attention given to new, clean sources of power in this country, it is sometimes surprising, if not a little disheartening, to learn that other countries actually have bested us in one measure or another. For example, China and Europe have competed strongly with, and by some measures eclipsed, the United States in recent years for bragging rights in the solar- and wind- power industries.

One recent study provides some reassurance that, in the global competition for the installation and use of renewable power, the United States and neighboring countries still hold the advantage in one very important measure.

According to Pike Research, North America leads the world in the addition of new smart energy capacity. The Boulder, Colo.-based company projects this trend to continue for the next three years.

The clean-tech market research firm’s study projects North America to add more than 400,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable capacity from 2012 through 2015, making it the leading region in the world for new renewable energy.

Pike’s measure of renewable power covers the standard wide net of sources, including hydro, biomass, waste, geothermal, wind and solar. Pike notes that renewable power makes up 10 percent of total electricity production in the United States.

The study also emphasizes that, while North America relies heavily on biofuel and biopower for its smart energy revenue and new installations, the potential for growth in other industries could lead to even stronger and more sustainable growth within the sector.

Pike also credits U.S. government policies for contributing to the trend. It points out that state governments are pushing utilities to purchase more renewable energy, through renewable portfolio standards and other similar policies, all of which stimulate the renewable market, albeit artificially.