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The Hill: One year on, Inflation Reduction Act is bolstering renewables. But Biden’s climate goals remain elusive

Posted by Rachel Frazin on Aug 17, 2023

The Hill provides a comprehensive analysis of the successes and shortcomings of the Inflation Reduction Act one year after the legislation passed, quoting Advanced Energy United's President & CEO Heather O'Neill on the Congressional steps needed to maximize the full potential of the policy.

One year after its adoption, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has resulted in significant strides in the adoption of renewable energy — but the U.S. still has work to do in order to reach President Biden’s climate goals. 

New analyses demonstrate significant growth in the renewables sector as a result of the law, the most significant climate legislation in the country’s history. They also say, however, that the U.S. is not quite on track to meet its climate objectives.

The IRA provided significant tax credits for low-carbon and carbon-free energy sources including wind, solar, nuclear, carbon capture technology and biofuels, as well as for electric vehicles. It also contained other programs aiming to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from the oil and gas sector and fund climate-friendly projects in communities around the country. 

Several analyses both public and private have indicated that the law is bolstering the deployment of renewable energy.

The Energy Department released a report Wednesday that was first shared with The Hill that shows the Democrats’ climate, tax and health care law, together with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will enable the deployment of up to about 250 gigawatts of new wind energy and up to about 475 gigawatts of new solar energy.

Meanwhile, the American Clean Power Association, a renewable energy lobby group, recently issued a report finding that the year since the IRA’s passage saw more investment in the sector than the past eight years combined. 

And a new report from research provider BloombergNEF projects that wind and solar power will comprise just less than half of all power generation by 2035 and 64 percent in 2050 — a significant jump from the 12 percent they made up in 2021. 

In total, the report projects that electricity coming from zero-to-low emission sources including wind, solar, nuclear and gas with carbon capture will make up 87 percent of the power grid by 2035.

But the Energy Department report also says that the U.S. is currently not on track to meet Biden’s climate goals. 

That report says it expects U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to be 35 percent to 41 percent lower in 2030 than they were in 2005, not quite reaching the president’s goal of cutting emissions in half. 

However, the report said that without the IRA and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, emissions would only reach 27 percent lower than 2005 levels, so it does appear that the climate law is making a difference.

Similarly, the Bloomberg report estimates that U.S. emissions will be 22 percent higher than Biden’s goal in 2030. In 2050, it projects they will be about 54 percent lower than they were in 2021 — a significant drop but still not the net-zero level Biden has said he hopes to achieve by midcentury. Its estimate for how much electricity will come from low-to-non carbon sources also falls shy of Biden’s goal of having an entirely carbon-free power system by 2035.

Meanwhile, as they push for even greater renewable energy deployment, key players in the sector are pushing for a streamlined process for approving energy projects — an issue that has seen significant momentum in Congress and won some traction in a recent deal to lift the debt ceiling. Lawmakers are continuing to work on a broader agreement.

“We really have to get our act together on transmission and on … permitting and siting,” Heather O’Neill, president and CEO of Advanced Energy United, told reporters this week. “There are good congressional steps … that we need to happen.”

Read the full article here.

Topics: United In The News, Heather O'Neill