This piece was originally published in the August 2016 issue of electroindustry.
Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY)
I had the opportunity to discuss the importance of energy storage and battery systems at the White House Summit on Scaling Renewable Energy and Storage with Smart Markets on June 16. Participants included leading utilities, state energy officials, energy storage developers, and demand response providers.
At the summit, the Obama administration announced approximately $1 billion in aggregate investments in energy storage, resulting in 1.3 gigawatts of additional storage procurement or deployment over the next five years. As a speaker, I discussed the important role the Capital Region of New York plays in the innovation economy. Companies ranging from GE to GlobalFoundries and IBM to Plug Power and SolarCity are a big part of what makes our area one of the fastest growing for clean energy jobs in the country. I also discussed the importance of fair ground rules to emerging technologies.
Last year, the world set a record for global investment in renewable energy, and more than half of the world’s new electric capacity came from clean sources. But I believe we can do even more if we let all clean energy sources compete on equal footing.
Last year, Congress passed a five-year extension of investment and production tax credits for solar and wind. While we hope this will lead to significant private investment in these technologies, other technologies, such as combined heat and power, fuel cells, and geothermal, were left out of the equation. I believe Congress must act as quickly as possible to make tax parity the same for these and other emerging technologies as for more traditional wind and solar.
Emerging technologies require many factors to fall in place to succeed: sufficient funding, market demand, constant feedback mechanisms, marketing, and a proper regulatory scheme, to name a few. However, using the tax code to stack the deck in favor of one technology over another should not be one of them.
I believe we can start by advancing the Technologies for Energy Security Act (HR 5167). This bill would ensure that fuel cells, thermal energy, combined heat and power, and other technologies are treated the same as wind and solar.
Over the past eight years, we as a nation have set ambitious climate and manufacturing goals. Energy storage and battery systems, such as fuel cells, will help us win both of these campaigns. Decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, reducing carbon emissions, and boosting clean energies will transform our economy. An improved and expanded economy will provide an untold opportunity for our American manufacturing sector—and every small business along the supply chain.
We can protect the environment and grow our economy by embracing our intellect as a nation, developing the next generation of technology to create the clean energy economy of the future, and creating a fair market for all emerging sources of electricity.