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Renewable Energy News Briefs - October 2016

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its, “2015 Wind Technologies Market Report” in mid-August. The report concluded that wind power’s low cost makes it an attractive option for utilities and corporate buyers. The report found that wind power was the biggest source of electric-generating capacity additions in 2015, and that wind made up 41 percent of new generation capacity in the United States last year. In addition, DOE found that the bigger turbines have enhanced the performance of wind projects and the falling price of turbines helped push down the cost of wind projects. The report says that the growth in the industry is supported by the federal production tax credit (PTC), which was extended for five years. The DOE stated that 2016 and 2017 will likely be the peak of project finance activity for the foreseeable future. The report was prepared by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and is available at


On Aug. 24, Berkeley Lab released two solar energy reports, “Utility-Scale Solar 2015: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States” and, “Tracking the Sun IX: The Installed Price of Residential and Non-Residential Photovoltaic Systems in the United States.” “Utility-Scale Solar” focuses on the utility-scale market, describing installed prices, as well as trends related to project design, operating costs, capacity factors and power purchase agreement (PPA) prices, while “Tracking the Sun” focuses on installed pricing trends for distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States. The reports found that among residential systems installed in 2015, prices varied from $3.3/watt to $5.0/watt between the 20th and 80th percentiles of the 2015 sample used for the report. The average capacity factor of utility-scale projects completed in 2014, whose first full operating year was 2015, was nearly 27 percent. Berkeley Lab surmised that utility-scale project capacity factors have improved over time with newer vintage projects, reflecting greater use of tracking equipment, higher inverter loading ratios and stronger solar resource sites.


Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group, along with more than 30 organizations, released a letter to Congress Aug. 30, opposing what it called lame-duck spending and corporate welfare tax extenders. The letter encouraged Congress to oppose efforts to use spending legislation as a means to extend the set of tax provisions set to expire at the end of the year. This includes the renewable energy investment tax credit (ITC). Americans for Prosperity stated Congress already considered the matter of expiring tax provisions and that the tax provisions set to expire are provisions pertaining to small-scale wind power, geothermal heat pumps, race horses and film production–provisions the letter said  distort tax laws and narrowly benefit favored industries over the rest of the tax base. The letter closes by saying these provisions were made temporary for a reason and that Congress must provide government funding beyond a lame-duck session and allow temporary tax provisions to expire as lawmakers decided last year.


The Iowa Utilities Board approved MidAmerican Energy’s plans Aug. 26 for a $3.6 billion wind energy investment, Wind XI. Wind XI will include multiple sites throughout Iowa. At press time, exact locations were still being finalized. The sites will be brought into service during a three-year period, from 2017 through 2019. The project is part of MidAmerican Energy’s goal to reach 100 percent renewable energy for Iowa customers. Financing will include funding from federal production tax credits (PTCs) over 10 years.

Journal Category:

Renewable Energy Tax Credits



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