Renewable Energy & Clean Fuels

As detailed previously, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) offers incentives to renewable energy development that takes place on certain properties that are affected by potential or confirmed contamination. Under the IRA, a 10% adder is available to any investment tax credit (ITC) or production tax credit (PTC) generated by a renewable energy project constructed on a “brownfield site,” and there have been many questions since the IRA’s passage about what constitutes a brownfield site.

On May 29, 2024, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) that includes guidance on two of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022’s renewable electricity tax credits – but which notably failed to provide guidance with respect to the eligibility of clean electricity generated by biogas or renewable natural gas (“RNG”) for those credits, leaving RNG developers with lingering questions. 

As the shift from fossil-based energy production to renewable energy sources continues, growth in renewable energy projects under development has been staggering. But moving projects from early-stage development to commercial operations requires navigating complicated methods of financing their development, construction, and operation via structures that vary depending on project ownership, size, technology, and the regulatory environment. 

On December 19, 2023, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”), which administers the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (“LCFS”), released a rulemaking package (“Draft Rule”) describing proposed LCFS changes, including changes designed to make carbon intensity (“CI”) reduction obligations more stringent.

Specifically, the Draft Rule would mandate a 30% reduction in transportation fuel CI scores by 2030 and a 90% reduction by 2045 (in each case, versus a 2010 baseline). Current CARB rules, which the Draft Rule would modify, require only a 20% reduction by 2030.

The prevailing wisdom is that increased carbon reduction obligations will spur renewable fuel demand, leading to an increase in the value of LCFS credits (which are created when renewable energy is used in producing transportation fuel, and can be transferred to industry participants subject to emission reduction obligations for use in meeting their obligations).

Solar energy and agricultural production often find themselves competitors. Both have strong incentives to expand, and they share a key input: land. Solar developers continue ramping up solar installation worldwide to meet heightened clean energy targets aimed at combating climate change, while agribusiness faces pressure to expand food production to support a growing population. Because solar development and crop production thrive under similar land conditions, namely, large, contiguous parcels of traditionally agricultural land, the two industries often find themselves competing for space.

Agrivoltaics aims to transform this competition into synergy: farming operations and solar development can coexist and reap benefits by sharing land. These arrangements are called agrivoltaic systems, and their widespread implementation can help popularize solar energy in agriculture-dependent communities hesitant to welcome solar development.

The Inflation Reduction Act’s broad tax incentives for certain investments in renewable energy sparked a flood of capital investment, hastening the development of clean energy infrastructure nationwide.  According to an August 16, 2023 White House Press Release, private companies have announced over $110 billion in clean energy manufacturing investment since the enactment of the

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), which administers the federal renewable fuels program known as the Renewable Fuel Standards (“RFS”), has been grappling with the best approach to incorporating electric vehicles (“EVs”) into the RFS. Specifically, the EPA has been evaluating ways to adapt the RFS (under which renewable energy developers can generate marketable credits

On November 17, 2023, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (the “NPRM”) with respect to Proposed Regulations under section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the “Code”).  The NPRM addresses the Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) framework, as amended under the Inflation Reduction Act (the “IRA”).  This blog