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EGEB: US solar and wind tax credits, coal bankruptcy, UK solar records, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • Democrats look to extend solar and wind tax credits…
  • …while the IEA sees the phaseout as encouraging to wind development.
  • One of the largest coal producers in the US files for bankruptcy.
  • UK solar generation peaked twice in the past week.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

A number of Democrats are looking to extend solar and wind tax credits that are set to expire or start to phase out next year. While this has been known for quite some time, a new Bloomberg article adds a bit more context to a possible looming showdown in Congress.

Democrats wrote a letter in April that pushed for support of continuing incentives for solar and wind, the restoration of expired renewable energy credits, and other clean energy initiatives.

Republicans don’t seem to have the same feelings, unsurprisingly. A spokesman for Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R) said the Iowa Senator isn’t in favor of an extension, despite supporting wind energy.

An agreement reached in 2015 extended a credit for the solar industry and restored a wind industry credit. That wind credit is set to phase out next year, with the solar credit starting to phase out next year until expiring completely in 2022.

As part of the deal, Republicans earned an end to a prohibition on crude oil exportation that dated back to 1975. …So if the solar and wind credits expire, will the US stop exporting crude oil?

Wind Boon

Despite the concern over the expiring credits, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) points out the phasing out creates an opportunity for further wind development in the US this year.

The EIA believes US wind capacity additions in 2019 will reach 12.7 gigawatts, which would be the best in the past six years, only just falling short of the 13.3 GW record set in 2012.

Under current legislation, facilities that begin construction after December 31, 2019, will not be able to claim the U.S. production tax credit, which provides a maximum tax credit for wind generation of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of production. Operations have to begin this year, though. An ideal situation might see a rush to develop wind projects before the credit is extended later this year…

Coal Reality

Cloud Peak Energy, the fourth-largest coal producer in the US, announced that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Cloud Peak President and CEO Colin Marshall said,

“Over the past several months, Cloud Peak Energy has thoroughly evaluated strategic alternatives to address the challenging market conditions in our industry. We believe, at this time, that a sale process in Chapter 11 will provide the best opportunity to maximize value for Cloud Peak Energy.”

The Casper Star-Tribune noted the bankruptcy comes at a time of “mounting debt and declining demand,” further noting that “following the filing, speculation almost immediately began that Cloud Peak would sell its mines.”

UK Solar

Solar power plants in the UK broke their peak generation record twice in the past week, the Solar Trade Association announced. Solar generation hit 9.47 GW, then 9.55 GW — the previous record of 9.38 GW was set in May 2017. STA Director of Advocacy and New Markets Léonie Greene said in a statement,

“It is impossible to argue with the numbers. The bright clear skies combined with mild temperatures means solar has consistently met big portions of electricity demand throughout recent days.

Days like these show that the technology can deliver clean, affordable power in abundance. We now need Government to provide a level playing field with other technologies and allow solar to thrive without public support. Currently solar in the UK faces a plethora of barriers which have dramatically slowed deployment.”

One such barrier is the upcoming VAT increase for solar panels, set to jump from 5% to 20%.

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