We’re excited about what’s in store for sustainability over the next few years with the recent Senate race results and the incoming Administration. We look forward to hearing about your thoughts on what the next Administration and the new Congress means for sustainability and clean energy. Here are some of ours:
President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory will reshape the U.S. energy sector in the coming administration, and will likely set an example for how global clean energy can be deployed in economies large and small. Despite a reduced Democratic majority in the U.S. House, last week saw the incoming Senate with a Democratic simple majority, representing an opportunity for some clean energy and climate-related policy to get passed to restore American jobs.
Coming on the heels of an extension of the solar Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), there’s a lot of momentum building for climate friendly policies. Here are three possible items that the incoming US government can pass that will help build out more utility-scale clean energy and storage:
1. National Clean Energy Standard
Alongside an expansion in policy support for energy innovation, a national Clean Energy Standard is finally possible and is likely to enjoy bipartisan support. This policy mechanism mandates a set amount of demand across the country for clean electricity that will incentivize developers to site and develop more MWs of zero-carbon projects, creating jobs across manufacturing, logistics, development, construction, operations, and more. As many have said, President-Elect Biden won on a Clean Energy Standard agenda, making it clear that this should be prioritized to jump-start the clean economy.
The most ambitious plan Biden has proposed could ramp up demand for 100GW of annual solar production– and for context each 100GW of utility-scale solar would mean about:
(1) ~1000 Power Purchase Agreements with organizations wanting to access cheaper, cleaner energy (for 1000 projects)
(2) 1.5 Gigatons of CO2 avoided with 10 years of project operation
(3) 57,600 tons of PM2.5 fossil fuel particulate matter avoided from dirty power plants
(4) 130,000 construction jobs and 203,000 manufacturing jobs created.
It quickly becomes easy to see why a federal clean energy mandate would benefit the country on many levels.
2. $500B Annual Procurement Budget
The federal government has always had immense procurement power, and under a Democratically-controlled White House and Congress, the $500B annual budget could easily be focused on purchasing clean electricity, incentivizing project developers to build at larger scale. The government’s procurement budget allocated to purchasing Electric Vehicles (EVs), utility (and smaller) scale clean energy, and energy efficiency would drive the cost of the technologies in these sectors so far down the cost curve that we could reach 100% clean economy by 2035, if not sooner (2030 would be a more ambitious but requisite goal).
3. Clean Energy Permitting
The federal government processes a vast amount of the permitting applications that clean energy and storage developers must submit to get a project completed. To increase the number of clean energy projects that get deployed within a time frame, Biden’s administration can use Biden’s Executive Authority to streamline permitting for clean energy projects. Though algorithmic search and software in general can help make a project far more competitive, it still requires development support from the public sector to help ensure that these competitive projects get through to construction and commissioning so that energy users can see the results of their PPA signing efforts.