U.S. Bank: Renewable Energy an “Excellent Asset Class”

U.S. Bancorp, the nation’s fifth-largest commercial bank, plans to invest about $440 million in renewable energy this year, a 30% increase over 2011, in renewable energy, according to Darren Van’t Hof , its director of renewable energy investments.  So reports The Wall Street Journal.  The bank has invested $680 million in solar and wind-power projects since 2008.

“Despite all the skepticism around Solyndra, Evergreen and a lot of legislative uncertainty, our financial institution is taking a very strong position [in renewable energy] and feel this is an excellent asset class,” Mr. Van’t Hof said in an interview.

The bank plans to take advantage of “tax equity” investments, according to the Journal.

Wind industry development is widely expected to contract in 2013 as wind tax credits expire at the end of this year.  Tax credits for solar projects have a much longer shelf life, on the other hand, and won’t expire until 2016.

An Uncertain Future for Wind

With the Production Tax credit set to expire in 2012, wind power developers are stopping work on projects that won’t be completed in 2012, leading to a drop-off in wind installations, says the Journal.

Navigant Consulting expects that only two additional gigawatts of wind capacity will be installed in 2013 after the tax credit expires, versus more than eight gigawatts that they expect to be installed in in 2012, according to a study they did in December.   They expect that thousands of additional U.S. job cuts on top of the 1,600 proposed job cuts announced by Danish turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems AS, would occur if the credit expires.

Wind’s backers say they need a few more years to build out a U.S. supply chain, drive costs down and be more competitive with foreign manufactures such as those in China who also receive government support, according to the article.

About 6.8 gigawatts of wind power were installed in the U.S. in 2011, bringing the total nationwide capacity to nearly 47 gigawatts, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

To read the full article by The Wall Street Journal cited in this story, click here

To read the full article by The Wall Street Journal cited in this story, click here


Tags: Solar , Wind

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