Solar Energy Grants Lose Funding

Solar Energy Grants Lose Funding

In March 2012, Congress failed to renew the 1603 Treasury Grant program.

That’s a shame, because 1603 did a great job of directly reimbursing individuals and businesses for their solar investments. We’ll miss it.

Solar installations are no longer cutting-edge, and grants are giving way to tax rebates. But there’s still some funding out there — you just need to look a bit longer.

Funding for small installations

For starters, how about getting money from the government for putting in your own solar installation? Well, you probably know about the Federal Solar Tax Credit. Strictly speaking that’s a tax break for homeowners, not a grant. But there are a few states where you can get a direct grant for a home system — Boulder, CO has been running one for years, and others have popped up all over the US. Ask your local installer if they know of any possible sources.

Getting bigger

All over the country, it’s easier to find funding if you’re working on a bigger scale — especially if your project benefits an energy-poor group. The Department of Energy runs its nationwide Tribal Energy Program, and the Department of Agriculture has a solar-friendly program for remote areas called Rural Energy for America (REAP).

If you have something a bit more specific in mind — maybe a solar-powered school, or a thermal plant for your neighborhood — then there’s a bewildering variety of grant sources. Fortunately, one single source will show you just about all the different funding programs available. That’s the amazing Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, a site that gathers up-to-date links to all the state funding programs in the entire US.

Perhaps it lists a funding source in your state?

Development dollars

Of course, if you’re a real solar freak, research is the way to go. If you have a campus-type enterprise exploring blue-sky renewable tech, you can likely find someone to support your enterprise.

But, if you want to bring a new process to market, there’s one outstanding source — that’s the Department of Energy’s Sunshot program. Sunshot staff proudly report that recipients of its $17.5 million first round of funding have gone on to attract more than $1.6 billion of private financing.

$1.6bn? Wow, we’ve really arrived. Maybe the grants are drying up because the industry is capable of financing itself?