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New climate law boosts renewables development more than 20 percent by 2030

Oct. 19, 2022 Updated Wed., Oct. 19, 2022 at 5:14 p.m.

Sheep graze near wind turbines at a wind farm near Highway 12 in Rio Vista, Calif., in March 2021.  (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)
Sheep graze near wind turbines at a wind farm near Highway 12 in Rio Vista, Calif., in March 2021. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)
By David R Baker </p><p>and Angel Adegbesan Bloomberg

The sweeping climate law signed by President Biden will boost development of solar, wind and big batteries by at least 20% through 2030, accelerating what would already have been rapid growth, according to BloombergNEF, a clean-energy research group.

The Inflation Reduction Act’s long-sought tax credits for renewable technologies will have their greatest effect toward the end of the decade, after the supply-chain problems now delaying some clean-power projects have eased.

But in the end, the IRA, which revived Biden’s stalled climate-change agenda, could have a dramatic effect on how the U.S. generates and stores power.

Enough solar power plants will be built from this year through 2030 to generate 364 gigawatts of electricity, BNEF estimates.

That’s more than three times the capacity of all U.S. solar plants in operation last year, and it’s 21% higher than BNEF’s previous forecast, before the IRA was signed in August.

A gigawatt is roughly the output of a commercial nuclear reactor and, depending on the region, can power 750,000 homes.

The IRA’s impact on wind installations could be even greater, with BNEF predicting 147 gigawatts of new projects, an increase of 36% from the group’s last forecast.

While some of those installations will be on shore, many will be in coastal waters along New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and toward the end of the decade, California.

The IRA also includes a new tax credit for large energy storage systems – typically, big packs of lithium-ion batteries – plugged into the power grid. BNEF forecasts 107 gigawatts of storage installations through 2030, up from just 5.7 gigawatts in use this year.

That’s a 24% increase from BNEF’s pre-IRA expectations.

California and Texas, both of which have endured blackouts in recent years, should benefit the most, according to the research group.

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