One big problem for the US, compared with Europe and China, is that not enough money is invested by the government in the massive conversion needed to advanced renewable energy.
In previous ages it was the US government that invested in the start of the railroads, telegraph, interstate highways and other massive change infrastructure. But now there is little government support of the new infrastructure needed.
We supposedly prefer drowning government in a bathtub. Which is fine if you are Somalia. But not in the developed world.
This puts the US at a competitive disadvantage, with the world bypassing us in the cleantech race. But this year saw the beginning of private investment in what is normally government investment in completely new tech infrastructure, with Google’s massive investment in off-shore wind.
Shouldn’t our government be making that sort of out-on-a-limb investment more attractive? Turns out, ours is.
This week Senate Democrats offered tax incentives to make renewable investment more attractive to VC investors in a bill proposed by Senator Feinstein to be included in the Tax bill, with the Advanced Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2010.
(SEC 966) Investors in off-shore wind will get a tax credit of up to $30 million a year till 2016 Off-shore is defined as including on inland waterways as well, that have wind potential; for example on the Great Lakes.
The Obama administration has streamlined the permitting of off-shore wind. Already 53 Democrats out of 58 voted for renewable energy in the first attempt to pass the tax bill.
Then they over ruled the Republicans who tried to force the Obama administration to take out the renewable energy stimulus tax credits. The Democrats prevailed. Now these provisions are back in.
This is likely to pass in tomorrow’s tax bill.
[Update 12/16/2010: In the end none of the many amendments offered on 12/13 were allowed. Most were terrible, so for the others, it was a good thing, but unfortunately for this one. It did not get a chance at an up or down vote, despite Energy Chair Senator Bingaman’s support]