U.S. program could benefit hydrokinetic projects

The U.S. Department of Energy has completed final regulations for a loan guarantee program authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to provide federal support of clean energy technologies.

Hydrokinetic technologies, such as ocean wave, tidal, and in-stream technologies, could be eligible should they be included in future solicitations, Dan Tobin of the Loan Guarantee Program said. However, conventional hydropower, new and incremental, if already commercially deployed in the U.S., would not be considered new or significantly improved, and therefore would not be eligible.

All projects deemed eligible for a loan guarantee must use �new or significantly improved� technologies compared to commercial technologies already in the marketplace. Projects also must avoid, sequester, or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases or air pollutants.

Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act, the legislation under which the program receives its broad authority to operate, includes renewable energy systems among technology categories eligible for loan guarantees. However, it does not specify a type of renewable energy system. Tobin said renewable energy systems is a broad category including numerous renewables technologies, which the department likely will include in future solicitations.

DOE intends to issue solicitations in 2008 that could include a portfolio of eligible technologies from Title XVII, Tobin said. Solicitations are to be posted periodically on the program Internet site, www.lgprogram.energy.gov.

The government hopes the program will encourage investment in clean energy by providing for repayment of a portion of the commercial loans that fund alternative-energy projects in the event of a default in financing. The program is intended to encourage early commercial use in the U.S. of new, or significantly improved technologies, in energy projects. The program is not intended for technologies in research and development, DOE added.

Congress has authorized DOE to issue up to $4 billion in loan guarantees. The White House asked for $9 billion more for the 2008 spending year, which began Oct. 1. DOE issued its final regulations for the program in October.

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