A federal tax credit for renewable energy has been extended for another 5 years. Significant impact on US economy expected.
In a rarely witnessed display of bipartisanship, congress has agreed to extend a federal tax credit, which is estimated to attract more than $125 billion in new investments for renewable energy production for the U.S. economy through 2022. Republicans agreed to this extension in return for a lift by the Democrats on a multi-decade ban on crude oil exports, which will provide new growth opportunities for many U.S. oil refineries.
Occurring in relation to President Obama's push to lower greenhouses gas emissions as part of the international climate deal struck in Paris, the compromise should lead to a tripling of solar power to 95 gigawatts, which is equal to about 3.5% of U.S. electricity generation, said the Solar Energy Industries Association. This would offset 100 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, annually equivalent to 26 coal-based power plants.
Solar is fueling America’s growth
There exist many components in solar energy generation, including panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity, infrastructure to transfer the electricity, and storage of the electricity. The nature of solar requires an energy storage solution for times when the sun is not available. While progress is being made in lithium-based energy storage, it remains expensive and relatively risky. Sealed lead acid (SLA) continues to be a reliable source for long term energy storage solutions. A properly maintained deep cycle SLA battery bank can offer as much as 7 years of rechargeable energy storage without requiring battery replacements. Being a mature technology, SLA is not prone to over-heating or explosions, which we’ve seen with li-on batteries.
This renewable energy tax credit extension offers major benefits for the U.S. economy, including possibly more than 140,000 jobs, Solar Energy Industry Association predicts. Furthermore, it supports a global movement to improve environmental conditions for a healthier future. Finally, it offers an outlook of hope. If Republicans and Democrats were able to agree on something as important as our energy sources and supplies, they might just be able to find some common ground in other issues equally impactful on all of our lives.