In an effort to ensure that owners of solar and wind energy facilities (“renewable energy facilities”) do not decommission production facilities without completing proper reclamation, on April 10, 2021, the West Virginia Legislature enacted Senate Bill 492, creating the West Virginia Wind and Solar Energy Facility Reclamation Act (as new Article 32 of Chapter 22 of the West Virginia Code (“Reclamation Act”)). The Reclamation Act (effective July 9, 2021) generally requires that an owner of a wind generation facility or a solar generation facility submit certain information to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”), including the date the facility commenced operation; a proposed decommissioning plan (prepared by a “qualified independent licensed professional engineer”); and a cost estimate for execution of that plan. The DEP will use that and other relevant information in preparing (or approving) a decommissioning plan for the site and in determining an appropriate reclamation bond amount for the facility.
On March 25, 2021, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to reduce the cost of solar energy technologies by 60% over the next 10 years by setting new cost targets and establishing funding opportunities. The DOE accelerated its cost target for utility-scale solar by establishing a new goal of driving down the current cost of 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 3 cents/kWh by 2025 and 2 cents/kWh by 2030. The DOE also announced $128 million in funding and initiatives aimed at lowering costs, improving performance, and speeding up the deployment of solar energy. Specifically, the DOE announced funding for advancing solar photovoltaic (PV) materials and a prize competition for perovskite technologies, increasing the lifetime of silicon-based PV systems, and supporting several concentrating solar-thermal power projects. The DOE stated that in order to meet the Biden Administration’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035, lowering the cost of solar energy technologies is needed to accelerate investment and deployment. More information about DOE’s funding opportunities can be found here: https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/funding-opportunities
The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that it will be awarding up to $20Million to support research and development of emerging flow battery storage technology. The DOE’s announcement can be found here. Battery storage has been identified by the DOE as an integral piece of the puzzle to modernizing our grid and enabling the deployment of additional renewable energy resources. Regarding flow battery technology, the DOE stated that “while lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in electric vehicles and portable devices for various applications, flow batteries are particularly well-suited for grid storage needs.” The DOE aims to incentivize development of scalable and cost-effective “mid-sized” flow battery systems (between 10 to 100kWh). This funding opportunity follows several other recent announcements supporting the growth of energy storage, including the DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, a Department-wide program to accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in energy storage, and a recently proposed Federal Bill to introduce a federal tax credit for energy storage, similar to those available to solar and wind projects.