Pushing the green transition: the Inflation Reduction Act explained


11th March, 2024


As the world pivots towards sustainable energy solutions, the United States has taken a step forward with the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This legislation not only marks a shift in the country’s energy policy but also sets the stage for a comprehensive revamp of how energy storage technologies are incentivized and integrated into the national grid and behind the meter. In this article, we delve into the specifics of the IRA, outlining the critical changes and opportunities it brings to the energy sector.

The IRA represents a significant investment in reducing the deficit to combat inflation, boosting domestic energy production and manufacturing. By channeling nearly $400 billion USD in federal funding into clean energy, the goal is to cut carbon emissions by approximately 40% by the year 2030. An investment marking a major stride towards environmental sustainability.

Before and After

Before the IRA, standalone energy storage projects were ineligible for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), unless they were part of a new solar generation facility. This was also limited to only apply when the storage was charged at least 80% by the solar facility. A restriction that reduced the functionality and deployment of energy storage technologies. Now with the IRA, a standalone energy storage system with a capacity of at least 5 kWh can qualify for the ITC, opening up opportunities for a variety of solutions – including batteries and other technologies that were previously overlooked.

Looking ahead, the IRA also ensures that energy storage technologies will be eligible for a technology-neutral tax credit through at least 2033, through the added section 48E. This means that any qualifying energy storage project, regardless of the technology used, will benefit from these credits if placed in service after December 31, 2024. Highlighting the importance of supporting a range of clean energy solutions, without favoring one over another solely based on emissions.

A transition supporting economic growth

The IRA also incentivizes projects that use domestically produced components with an additional 10% ITC. This bonus is part of a drive to bolster the US manufacturing sector and to ensure that clean energy projects contribute to domestic economic growth. Moreover, energy storage projects located in designated “energy communities” – areas impacted by the decline of traditional energy industries, such as brownfield sites and previously coal-powered tracts – receive the same additional ITC, supporting economic recovery and transition in these regions.

Allocating resources where most needed

Furthermore, the IRA provides incentives for solar and wind energy projects in low-income communities. These projects can also receive an additional 10%, or even 20% ITC if they contribute to residential or economic benefits in these areas. This progressive measure ensures that the move towards green energy also supports social equity by channeling investments into communities that need it the most.

A holistic vision

The changes brought by the IRA represent a pivotal push to create a more sustainable and equitable energy landscape in the United States. By offering these incentives, the IRA aims to stimulate American innovation in energy storage, while ensuring that the benefits of these technologies are shared broadly across the US economy. A strategy that extends beyond promoting technological advances; it seeks to make clean energy accessible to diverse groups, emphasizing social justice and spur economic inclusivity.

The IRA is an example of how mitigating climate change can be seen as a tool rather than a contradiction to fostering economic growth and inclusivity. Showing that the road to a more sustainable future is a holistic one as well.

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