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Biden administration steps up its solar power game

August 6, 2021 PV InfoLink

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Since President Joe Biden took office, he has been actively promoting infrastructure construction and the development of renewable energy, and continually encourages the adoption of rooftop solar. Lately, the Biden administration launched the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+) platform, seeking to speed up local governments’ processes of permitting applications.

SolarAPP+ is expected to accelerate residential PV installations in the U.S., as the pilot program began in California and Arizona showed promising results, with permitting reviews being shortened from approximately 20 days to less than a day.

The Biden administration seeks decarbonization of the energy system by 2035 and realize carbon-free economy by 2050. As the Department of Energy estimated, to meet the goals in time, PV installation must be five times faster, and SolarAPP+ is one solution.

Meanwhile, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and associations of wind energy, hydrogen energy, and energy storage jointly urged the U.S. government to extend the investment tax credit (ITC) for ten years, believing it will create more renewable energy jobs.

The associations also proposed “direct pay” provision for projects claiming the ITC. The direct pay option is a similar measure as the “Section 1603” program,  which was initiated by the U.S. Department of Treasury in 2009 during financial crisis to offer low-interest loans directly to renewable energy projects. Before its expiation, the program had attracted USD 90 billion of investments.  Besides tax credits like the ITC, some reviews believed that there may be other options for assisting the PV industry, such as imposing carbon tax and impelling the transformation of renewable energy. 

According to the SEIA, the U.S. added 5 GW of installed PV capacity in the first quarter of the year, accounting for 58% of new installations, with wind energy taking up most of the rest. This indicates that nearly all capacities added in the first quarter were renewable sources.

The U.S. is estimated to add 160 GW of installed capacity in the next five years. In the meantime, the SEIA pledged to achieve 50 GW of domestic PV production capacity by 2030, for the country to strive in this competitive environment, where every nation is prospering own PV industry.

References:
https://www.seia.org/us-solar-market-insight
https://www.seia.org/news/seia-calls-ten-fold-increase-american-solar-manufacturing-capacity-50gw-2030
https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/us-seeks-speed-rooftop-solar-growth-with-instant-permits-2021-07-15/
https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/biden-clean-energy-plan-key-restoring-industry-job-losses-says-us-official-2021-07-19/

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