Perhaps it got overshadowed by the holiday weekend, but on July 3 the Department of Energy introduced a new, potentially $ billion round of loan guarantees to support the development of clean energy and energy efficiency projects across the U.S. A wide swath of market-ready technologies, from solar to wind to advanced vehicle manufacturing and cleaner coal usage are eligible for support under the solicitation.
The loan guarantee program, while maligned for supporting the likes of Solyndra and some other spectacular failures like Evergreen Solar, has been incredibly successful overall. It has also supported more than 30 successful renewable energy projects, among them the 550 megawatts Desert Sunlight Project using First Solar modules or the 250 megawatt Abengoa solar thermal trough system with thermal energy storage.
“Investments in clean, low-carbon energy also provide an economic opportunity,” said DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. For instance, the aforementioned projects are already generating energy, together contributed thousand of jobs during construction and created nearly 100 permanent positions.
“Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the Department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S., from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy,” Moniz said.
This solicitation is aimed five key technology areas, DOE said. These include advanced grid integration and energy storage (batteries and other technologies, which work well with solar power), drop-in biofuels (basically replacements for fossil fuels), waste-to-energy projects (biomass and similar projects), facility enhancements existing and and efficiency improvements.
Solar Energy Industries Association President Rhone Resch hailed the loan guarantees while pointing out that solar has benefitted and is benefitting from federal incentive programs. “Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America. This growth can be attributed, in part, to smart, fair public policies such as the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).” Resch it is important to continue to provide such incentives as deadlines for incentive reductions approach. “To make the ITC even more successful, we are strongly urging Congress to pass Commence Construction language this year, which will create more certainty within the market and allow solar businesses nationwide to take advantage of the new DOE program.”
The DOE’s Loan Programs Office, which has already issued $32.4 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments is already supporting more than 30 projects across the U.S. It’s helped create roughly 55,000 jobs. Currently it is accepting applications in this and two other offers, the $8 billion Advanced Fossil Energy Projects solicitation and the $16 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.Tweet