US Department of Energy launches US$10 million funding programme for renewables planning

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Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure’s Solana solar project has a capacity of 280MW. Image: US Department of Energy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has started receiving applications for a US$10 million funding and technical assistance programme which aims to support the planning, siting and permitting of large-scale renewable energy projects on private land.

The DOE said it would award about five to seven state-based collaboratives up to US$2 million each to establish or expand their programmes and initiatives. The department also gave examples of potential activities that could be completed with awarded funds, including engaging communities, local and tribal governments, and other stakeholders to identify priorities and resource needs for renewable energy planning, siting, and permitting.

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The awardees could also establish a state-specific technical assistance hub that responds to questions and requests from local governments and/or communities regarding siting and proactive planning for future deployment of large-scale renewable energy projects.

Conducting training and workshops with local governments and communities to improve technical understanding of renewable energy planning and/or siting, as well as developing state-specific resources to support community planning for renewable energy and implementation of siting best practices are other examples provided by the DOE.

Lastly, the awardees could hire or subcontract assistance to expand technical capacity on siting processes, renewable energy technologies, community engagement planning and execution and community plan development.

“When state and local governments have the resources to plan for renewable energy development and engage community members in permitting decisions, it leads to better outcomes for local economies, the environment, and renewable energy developers,” said Alejandro Moreno, associate principal deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

This round of application is part of the DOE’s new Renewable Energy Siting through Technical Engagement and Planning (R-STEP) programme, which seeks to expand the decision-making capacity and expertise of state and local governments around large-scale renewable energy planning, siting, and permitting.

The deadline for application for the programme will close on 3 November 2023.

“R-STEP awardees will be better able to help their local communities address renewable energy siting and planning issues, leading to a more durable and equitable clean energy future,” Moreno added.

The news follows Dimension Renewable Energy’s close of funding for 120MWdc of community solar projects, and inititatives such as those launched through R-STEP could help establish new solar projects across the country.

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