Federal Programs Enable Unprecedented Solar Power Deployment

Federal investment in scientific discovery and technology is vital to maintaining U.S. economic leadership globally and in growing key emerging sectors such as clean energy

Unprecedented Solar Power Deployment


Traditional energy resources such as oil and gas have received incentives from the U.S. government for more than a century. Now, federal programs are also spurring emerging technologies, including solar power. These initiatives are aimed at helping solar become cost-competitive with conventional sources and are driving the sector’s rapid rise. Tax credits and loan opportunities have been important tools in encouraging domestic discovery, development, and deployment. Partnerships among researchers, industry, and government agencies have also been crucial, fostering breakthroughs in technology maturation and deployment. These collaborations and incentives helped to double the nation’s solar power capacity between 2008 and 2012, reduce costs by more than 56 percent since 2010, and stimulate job growth.1 Yet stiff competition for federal funding and uncertainty surrounding national incentives threaten market progress: The investment tax credit for solar projects is set to expire at the end of 2016.2 To best compete in a global economy, solar businesses, investors, and customers need stable, supportive policies.

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  1. Isaac Arnsdorf, “Fracking Sucks Money From Wind While China Eclipses U.S.,” Bloomberg (May 29, 2014), http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-29/fracking-sucks-money-from-wind-while-china-eclipses-u-s-.html.
  2. U.S. Department of Energy, “Solar,” http://energy.gov/eere/renewables/solar.