Department of Energy Announces Plans to Reduce Cost of Solar Energy Technologies by 60 Percent

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:

American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act of 2021 Proposes $8 Billion in Tax Credits to Retool, Expand, or Build New Manufacturing Facilities

Democratic Senators from West Virginia (Joe Manchin) and Michigan (Debbie Stabenow) have introduced legislation to make billions of dollars available to promote manufacturing related to energy efficiency and renewable energy.  According to a press release, the proposed “American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act of 2021” would provide up to $8 billion in tax credits to “manufacturers and other industrial users to retool, expand, or build new facilities that make or recycle energy-related products.”  Half of those credits are designated for communities adversely affected by closures of coal mines or power plants that have not previously received similar tax credits.  Under the proposed bill, credits are available for new construction or retrofitting of existing facilities to produce or recycle a range of energy products including:

  • advance electric grid, energy storage, and fuel cell equipment;
  • equipment for production of low-carbon, low emission fuels, chemicals and other products;
  • renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment;
  • products or technologies that capture, remove, use, or store carbon dioxide; and
  • advanced vehicles, components, and related infrastructure.

The bill is intended to promote creation of domestic jobs that draw on skills possessed by individuals formerly employed in manufacturing, coal mining, or power plant operation.  The bill also seeks to promote investment in communities experiencing high unemployment due to coal mine or power plant closures.

Solar Growth in West Virginia

Following the passage of West Virginia Senate Bill 583 in early 2020, West Virginia has seen an uptick in the number of new proposed renewable energy projects.  SB 583 established a new incentive program supporting the development of renewable energy facilities on former industrial sites.  Berkeley County, in the eastern panhandle, recently announced a proposed 100 MW solar facility to be built on a 750 acre brownfield site previously used as a manufacturing facility.  Read more.

Solar Investment and Wind Production Tax Credits Extended

The recently approved federal spending bill for 2021 appropriations (December 27, 2020) included extensions to the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) and wind production tax credit (PTC).  The ITC and PTC provide significant financial incentives to the growing renewable energy industry. The ITC is a tax credit that can be claimed on federal corporate income taxes for a percent of the cost of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system that is placed in service.  The ITC, which was scheduled to step down from 26% to 22% in 2021, has been extended at its current 26% rate for an additional two years through 2023.  The PTC is a per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated using qualified energy resources including wind, and was scheduled to phase down from 60% of the original credit to 40% in 2021.  The new spending bill included an extension of the 60% rate for an additional year through 2021. Projects must be commenced prior to the expiration of the new extension deadlines in order to qualify for the current tax credit rate. Please click here for more information.