US Tax Bill to Invest in Very Advanced Renewable Energy Storage

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Are you fed up with Senate Democrats being held hostage by Republican fealty to old energy? Today’s news is encouraging. Very advanced renewable energy storage gets big tax credits in the tax bill.

Democrats inserted incentives to invest in EV chargers, thermal storage, high tech renewable energy storage on the grid and other very progressive renewable energy incentives, in amendments in the tax package to be voted on Wednesday, now that the cloture vote passed yesterday.

Here is what we can expect to be voted on tomorrow. California’s Senator Feinstein included in the tax bill the Advanced Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2010

Thermal energy storage tax credits (SEC 963 and 964).
This must have “a round-trip energy storage efficiency of at least 70 percent, be able to store the energy equivalent of at least 2 kilowatt hours of energy and have an output of the energy equivalent of 500 watts of electricity for a period of 4 hours”.

An example of these kinds of huge energy efficiency savings would be the Steffes thermal storage unit that we have covered here, that takes night time off-peak wind power and stores the electricity as heat which can be sent out again on demand. It is being tested to advance distributed storage on the grid.

Tax credit to invest in on-site energy storage (SEC. 963)
It must “provide supplemental energy to reduce peak energy requirements primarily on the same site where the storage is located.” Examples would be Ice Energy which makes air conditioning carbon neutral by storing night time wind power on the roofs of commercial buildings.

To qualify, it must have:
1.  the ability to store the energy equivalent of at least 20 kWh of energy,
2.  the ability to have an output of the energy equivalent of 5 kw of electricity for 4 hours, and
3. a round-trip energy storage efficiency of not less than 70 percent.

EV chargers: tax credits up to $1 million a year/30% of cost
Any “property used to charge plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles if such property or vehicles are equipped with smart grid services which control time-of-day charging and discharging of such vehicles.” These must be able to store at least 20 kWh, or about one sunny day’s supply with a 3.5 KW solar system.

This will be not only an incentive to put in EV chargers, but also the solar panels to supply that electricity, because the energy storage must be “designed and used primarily to receive and store intermittent renewable energy generated on-site and to deliver such energy primarily for on-site consumption”.

The majority of Democrats already supported the renewable energy provisions on the first attempt when the tax cuts bill was to be just for incomes under $250,000 – when Republicans prevented an up or down vote, by preventing the cloture vote.

But in last weekend’s failed (not 60) cloture vote (to hold a vote), 53 Democrats voted Yes. So it is likely that now this renewable energy expansion will pass, given an up or down vote, as once cloture is passed, you only need 50 votes.

Not only did Democrats get back the one year extension of the expiring Section 1603 (30% off in cash in lieu of tax credit to solar and wind projects) that they demanded in return for supporting the GOP tax bill, but they have added even more investment in renewable energy.

[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]

Image: The Carlos
Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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