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Research U.S. Government Incentives for Solar Thermal Power

2020-05-27 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: 留学资讯


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Research U.S. Government Incentives for Solar Thermal Power



Although The United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is also known as the Copenhagen Conference, didn’t reach any legally binding agreement, the U.S government promised a 17% emission decrease by 2020. To accomplish the target, the government has to develop renewable energy. In clean energy space, the solar thermal power is one of the feasible technologies for its stability and low cost.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in 2012 the worldwide clean energy investment was $260 billion and the spending in the U.S. rose by a third to $55.9 billion. Statistics shows that U.S. is making efforts in order to achieve its goal, but specifically speaking, how can the government do?

The KPMG’s report noted that besides regulations and rules, governments are turning to tax relief to promote the renewable energy sources and the support comes in incentives including credits, grants, tax holidays, accelerated depreciation and non-tax incentives(1). In addition, grants, loan funds, rebates are provided nationwide. Obviously the U.S. is no exception.

The Current Incentives

The U.S. government has already implemented several acts and financial incentives for enterprises and individuals. Loan funds provide low-interest loans for energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy, and distributed generation. Rebates, also called buy-downs, are provided by the state to the end user and are a common form of state financial incentive. Tax incentives aim to spur innovation by the private sector by developing more energy efficient technologies and practices and increasing consumer choice of energy-efficient products and services (Brown et al. 2002). Unlike incentives that help finance initial capital costs, another kind of incentives, generation incentives are on the basis of actual electricity generated.

The Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) “requires electricity providers in those states to source an increasing amount of renewable energy in a specified time frame” (qtd. in Delmas and Montes-Sancho, 5). EPA pointed out that “Many states have adopted RPS requirements because they are an administratively efficient, cost-effective, and market-based approach to achieving renewable electricity policy objectives” (5-3). Apparently the RPS has a profound and significant influence on the U.S. “Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have adopted an RPS as of mid-2007, with a strong likelihood of continued expansion” (Rabe 10).

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a 30 percent tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties. According to SEIA, ITC has helped annual solar installation grow by over 1,600 percent since the ITC was implemented in 2006 - a compound annual growth rate of 76 percent. Over 625 manufacturing facilities produce solar components across 48 states.

New Mexico offers a $0.01 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) production tax credit for solar, wind, and biomass that can be taken along with the federal Production Tax Credit (EPA 3-67). A 30% residential renewable energy tax credit has been provided since 2005 nationwide. According to DSIRE, in 2005, 38 states have tax incentives program for renewable energy. Tax incentives are a very common policy tool to stimulate an industry, and they are really effective.

How about generation incentives? Here are two examples provided by EPA. In 2005, California began a pilot performance-based incentive (PBI) that provides incentive payments of $0.50/kWh over the first three years of PV system operation. In Pennsylvania, the Energy Cooperative, offers a Solar Energy Buy-Back program that pays its 6,500 mem­bers with 1 kW to 5 kW PV systems $0.20/kWh for the output of their systems. 

There are also several funding programs such as Public Benefits Funds for Renewable Energy and Texas LoanSTAR program.

By searching from the EPA, U.S department of energy and DSIRE, there are countless incentives programs for individuals and company in different states and nationwide. In the website of DSIRE, all financial incentives are listed in a form. Nearly all states implement all kinds of incentives.


It seems that diverse incentives for renewable energy are implemented in United States and a bright future is awaiting us. However, challenges still exist.

Firstly, it’s hard to choose the energy type. Solar power is one of the most popular renewable energy at present. Almost all incentive programs include the solar-related energy projects. While for those less popular ones like bio-fuel and geothermal power, the investments are much less. Should the government all types of new resources? How to balance and what are the criteria? Each states owns a different situation, how to guarantee the fairness? All these questions ought to be thought by policy-makers.

Secondly, loans and financial support are limited. Take loan fund as an example. As EPA pointed out:

In order to maintain a large pool of capital, it is important for states to consider several tradeoffs, including, for example, determining the balance between private and public sector loans, and between short-term and long-term loans. 


In addition, it may cause corruption and other problems which impede the fair competition.

Thirdly, independent supervision agencies should be established to evaluate the effects of implementation and find out problems. I suggest that a standard evaluation be set (criteria that are applicable for the whole U.S) to judge whether a project should be fund or no. The agencies are better conducted by the federal government and all the information should be made known to the public.


The U.S. government passed a series of incentives for personal and corporations to popularize the renewable energy. Incentives are the most efficient and effective ones to promote an industry since it effects the object directly. Actually for any new industry, capital and technology are two biggest barriers. As the government plays the role of macro-control, certain policies must be made to support and guarantee its development. Renewable energy is inestimable and a bright future, not only the solar thermal power, but also bio-fuel, flammable ice, water power….. Countless fortune is awaiting us but we cannot stifle them in the cradle.

Challenges should not be neglected and relative solution must be worked out as soon as possible. The most important one is fairness. The new market must experience chaos, predicaments and controversy, what we should do is to minimize the loss as well as finding a better balance.


















Works Cited

Bakewell, S. “Clean Energy Investment Rises to $260 Billion, Boosted by Solar.” Bloomberg BusinessWeek. January 13 2012.


Delmas, M, and Maria J. Montes-Sancho. “US STATE POLICIES FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY: CONTEXT AND EFFECTIVENESS”. Retrieved from http://www.environment.ucla.edu/media/files/EP.pdf 

DSIRE. Financial Incentives for Renewable Energy.


KPMG. Taxes and Incentives for Renewable Energy. KPMG Publication, 2011. http://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/Taxes-Incentives-Renewable-Energy-2011.pdf 

Rabe, B. “Race to the Top: The Expanding Role of U.S State Renewable Portfolio Standards”. Sustainable Development Law & Policy Volume 7. 2007

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). http://www.seia.org/policy/finance-tax/solar-investment-tax-credit

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Clean Energy-Environment Guide to Action: Policies, Best Practices, and Action Steps for States. United States: EPA Publication, 2006.






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