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Interior Department Announces 80% Drop in Capacity Fee for Wind & Solar Power Farms

Solar panels and wind power generation equipment
  • The US has lowered capacity fee for wind and solar energy farms on public land managed by the BLM 
  • It is aimed at providing greater certainty to the private sector while facilitating development in priority areas 
  • BLM has now permitted over 29 GW of clean energy projects on public land in the US, surpassing the 25 GW target for 2025 
  • It is also processing permits for over 32 GW of additional renewable energy capacity in the Western US 

The US Department of Interior has slashed the capacity fee for wind and solar energy projects on public land by 80% and announced exceeding the goal of allotting public land for 25 GW clean energy projects, ahead of the target year of 2025. 

The move to reduce capacity fee by 80% is aimed at facilitating development in priority areas by streamlining application review. It will also deliver greater certainty for the private sector, it explained. 

According to the unofficial final rule published by the BLM on its website, the 80% reduction to the MWh rate in capacity fee will be applicable through 2035. It will be lowered to 60% for new authorizations in 2036, 40% for new authorizations in 2037, and 20% for new authorizations in 2038 and beyond. 

A decision has been taken now on the step proposed in June 2023 (see Easing Renewable Energy Development In USA). Previously, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that manages public land in the US on behalf of the federal government had reduced the fee through guidance in 2022. 

BLM says this will expand its ability to accept leasing applications for wind and solar power plants in priority areas without first going through a full auction. The bureau will, however, be able to hold competitive auctions wherever appropriate. 

The department had been targeting permitting 25 GW of clean energy capacity on public land by 2025. Now, it has exceeded the target by permitting nearly 29 GW of clean energy, ahead of the target year. It believes this capacity will bring online enough clean energy to power more than 12 million homes in the country. 

Permitted projects include solar, wind, and geothermal projects, along with generation transmission projects on BLM-managed public land. 

The BLM is now processing permits for nearly 66 utility-scale clean energy projects in the Western US, representing over 32 GW of additional renewable energy capacity. It is also reviewing a preliminary review of about 200 applications for solar and wind development, as well as more than 100 applications for solar and wind energy site testing. 

At present, there are more than 10 GW of renewable energy projects operational on BLM-managed lands as the Arica and Victory Pass Solar Projects with a combined capacity of up to 465 MW and 400 MW battery storage capacity came online. Both were developed by Clearway Energy Group (see US Advances 1 GW Solar For Public Lands).  

The US aims for a 100% carbon-free electricity grid by 2035 with 40% targeted to be achieved with the help of solar energy. The government is making efforts to speed up clean energy installations as it will need more than 2 TW wind and solar installed capacity to achieve the target (see US Needs 90 GW Solar & 150 GW Wind/Year By 2035). 

Source from Taiyang News

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