Change in Biden administration policy could make solar and wind projects profitable

There is an idea floating in the ether (or at least in my ether) that there is enough sunny federal land in Nevada to power the entire United States with solar energy. Some very rough math suggests it’s possible, requiring just over 11% of Nevada’s federal land. None of that includes space for batteries for storage or the massive transmission cables needed to export it all, both of which would significantly expand the footprint, and a concentrated facility like that would not be very resilient or ecologically sound. The point is that there is room to spare! The federal government owns a lot of land in other sunny and windy places, not just in Nevada. So why don’t we have more solar and wind power on public land? The Biden administration hopes to remove at least one hurdle. This week, the Interior Department announced 50% cuts in rental and capacity fees (a fee assessed based on the amount of power being produced) in an effort to spur more solar and wind development on federal land. (Geothermal does not receive any favors in this policy change for whatever reason.) Utility-scale wind and solar projects can incur lease fees of millions of dollars per year, so the boost could be significant.


Table of Contents