February 22, 2016

NREL Report Shows Wind and Solar Tax Credits will Cut Emissions and Drive More Renewable Development

WASHINGTON (February 22, 2016)—The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today released an analysis that found the recent five-year extension of the federal production and investment tax credits for wind and solar, passed by Congress in December, will drive a net peak increase of 48 to 53 gigawatts in installed renewable generation capacity in the early 2020s and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 540 million to 1,400 million metric tons over 15 years (spanning 2016-2030).

Below is a statement by Steve Clemmer, director of energy research and analysis at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The NREL study shows just how important the tax credits are.  The tax credits will spur significant renewable energy development and cut carbon emissions. That’s important from a climate point of view because the earlier we start reducing emissions the better chance we’ll have of staving off some of the worst consequences.

“The tax credits will help states cut emissions by transitioning to renewables, rather than over-relying on natural gas. The danger is that if you lock in too much natural gas use, you’ve locked in a certain amount of future emissions. Renewables, on the other hand, provide cost-effective, carbon-free energy.

“This analysis clearly shows why the renewable industry had reason to cheer when Congress voted for the extension. The tax credits create the certainty the renewable energy industry needs to develop projects, create jobs and expand U.S. manufacturing capacity. It will also allow the industry to continue advancing wind and solar technology and drive down costs to put them on a level playing field with fossil fuels.

“The recent Supreme Court stay on the Clean Power Plan does not change the underlying economic and public health benefits from a shift to renewable energy. The good news is that the extension of the tax credits can help states stay on that path. However, additional clean energy policies, including full implementation of the Clean Power Plan and action from Congress on clean energy finance and deployment policies, are vital to meeting our climate and energy goals.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.