Loan guarantees aim to boost flagging renewables sectors, under pressure from cheaper fossil fuels
By Ed King
The US government has made $4 billion in clean energy funding available, in support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
The loan guarantees are for US renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that cut, store or reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the Department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the US, from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy,” energy secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement.
“Today’s announcement will help build on and accelerate that success.”
The new loans are the latest in a series of measures aimed at cutting emissions, deployed through the President’s executive powers.
Last month Obama announced new carbon emission standards for coal power plants, which could see reduce carbon pollution fall 26% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.
By 2030, the draft rule would mandate that the emissions be cut by 30% compared with 2005 levels.
The tough challenge facing US decarbonisation efforts is highlighted by latest data from the US Energy Information Agency, which suggest the country’s emissions are set to rise for a second successive year.
US wind installations are performing even worse than a very poor 2013, due to the end of favourable tax credits, while coal generation is climbing.
In the past year climate change has rapidly become one of the White House’s signature policy initiatives, set against a hostile Congress that has refused to pass any new green laws.
Last week Obama mocked his Republican opponents, many of whom say global warming is not a threat, and have called for low carbon legislation to be scrapped.
“Folks will tell you climate change is a hoax or a fad or a plot, it’s a liberal plot,” he said.
“Many who say that actually know better and they’re just embarrassed, they duck the question.
“‘They say, hey, I’m not a scientist,’ which really translates into, ‘I accept that manmade climate change is real, but if I say so out loud, I will be run out of town by a bunch of fringe elements that thinks climate science is a liberal plot.'”
Scientists say parts of the US are already feeling the effects of climate change-related weather patterns, with 20% of the country suffering severe to extreme drought.
Published in May, the USA National Climate Assessment warned of temperature rises between 1.1 to 2.2C in the coming decades.
“The most recent decade was the nation’s and the world’s hottest on record, and 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental United States,” it said.