ARRA Report Shows That Renewable Energy Has Benefited From Funds

A new report released by Vice President Joe Biden shows that the U.S. is on track to double renewable energy generation capacity and renewable manufacturing capacity by 2012 as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Over $23 billion has been earmarked to support renewable energy.

‘Thanks to investments made possible by the Recovery Act, we are unleashing the American innovation machine to change the way we use and produce energy in this country,’ Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. ‘Just as importantly, these breakthroughs are helping create tens of thousands of new jobs, allowing the U.S. to continue as a leader in the global economy and helping to provide a better future for generations to come.’

The report, ‘The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy Through Innovation,’ cites three programs that are driving the manufacturing and deployment of renewable energy technology: the 1603 Payments-In-Lieu-Of-Tax-Credits program, the 48C Manufacturing Tax Credit program and loan guarantees.

The 1603 program has provided over $3 billion in payments to more than 100 wind projects in 30 states for a total of 5.3 GW of capacity, according to the report. This program provided funding after tax equity markets froze due to the financial crisis.

In addition, the 1603 program has helped over 200 MW of solar projects deliver power to consumers. The 48C program provided funds for the 25 MW DeSoto Solar Park in Pensacola, Fla. Loan guarantees have helped Freemont, Calif.-based Solyndra build a solar panel manufacturing facility with the capacity to build 230 MW a year.

Fifty-two wind manufacturing projects have benefited from the 48C program, which has awarded $346 million in tax credits. Once built and online, these facilities are expected to add several gigawatts of additional U.S. manufacturing capacity for wind components such as towers, blades, gearboxes and generators.

The ARRA also devotes funds to research and development (R&D). For example, the U.S. currently lacks facilities that can test the next generation of large wind turbines and blades. Two R&D test centers – one for large blades and one for large turbines – are being funded by the ARRA. This capability will help improve U.S. competitiveness in this field, according to the report.

Massachusetts received up to $25 million in ARRA funds to develop a large blade test facility. The Charlestown, Mass.-based center will test and certify the performance of the latest generation of large wind turbine blades.

Clemson University received up to $45 million to develop a large drivetrain test facility, which will allow the U.S. to expand the development and testing of large-scale wind turbine drivetrain systems domestically.

FloDesign Wind Turbine Corp. received up to $8.3 million. The company is developing a shrouded wind turbine, analogous to jet turbine designs, which may deliver significantly more energy for its size than existing wind turbines.

The ARRA has also provided funds to enable a smarter grid and improve system reliability. Funds will support the installation of 875 transmission-system sensors that can alert system operators and help prevent minor disturbances from cascading into large outages. ARRA funds will also help equip 700 substations with automated devices to detect and respond to system irregularities to help avoid outages.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy

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