North Dakota : Renewable Energy Incentives for the USA

Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in North Dakota


North Dakota has a range of renewable energy incentives in place and, while it is still heavily dependent on coal, produces 17.5% of its electricity from wind power and 5% from hydroelectric. Despite being north of the country and having a cold climate, the state does have a good level of sunshine which makes it suitable for developing a larger solar industry.

Wind, however, is the mainstay of Dakota’s renewable provision so far and accounts for a significant percentage of energy production. There is the potential to deliver much more as the region has the sixth largest wind resource in the USA. By the end of 2104, the state was producing 1,886 MW, the largest project situated at Bison Wind Energy Centre with a 497 MW capacity. Hartland, North Dakota is the site for the next large installation which is expected to have a 500 MW capacity.

The state’s largest hydroelectric plant is the Garrison Dam which is capable of producing 583 MW and there is plenty of scope for increasing both industrial and small scale hydro in the future. There are only 11 solar companies operating in North Dakota, currently employing about 300 workers and total capacity is considered nominal. The state lies at the bottom of the pile when it comes to solar PV and there are no major projects of note, with all current capacity provided by residential installations. It’s unusual because the state actually has good sunshine and could produce significant amounts of electricity and thermal heat from this technology.

Solar PV Incentives in North Dakota

Lagging in last place when it comes to solar PV, Dakota does have net metering in place and there are various tax exemptions available. Residential and corporate installations benefit from the 30% Federal Tax Rebate and the Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption is available for a wide range of technologies including solar PV, wind and biomass. Take up of solar PV across the state, however, has been almost non-existent though this could well change in the future.

Solar PV Case Study in North Dakota

It’s all the more surprising when you consider that the return on investment for solar in Dakota is reasonably good, though it is a cash purchase state and there is no facility for leasing. The average cost of a 5 kW array is $20,000 which gets immediately reduced by the Federal Tax Rebate of 30%. There are slightly higher energy savings than in other states which means that you should see a break-even point after about 17 years and a profit over 25 years of around $11,000. Installing solar PV could also add to the sale value of your home to the tune of $13,000.

Solar Thermal Incentives in North Dakota

Solar thermal benefits from the Federal Tax Rebate but also the state’s Renewable Energy Tax Credit and the Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption. It’s a popular technology around the rest of the USA and uses the passive trapping of heat from the sun but North Dakota’s colder climate could be one reason why installations haven’t increased dramatically over the last decade or so.

Small Hydro Incentives in North Dakota

With a small population and a large open spaces, North Dakota does have more capacity for developing hydroelectric on a large and small scale. While installers can benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate there are no specific incentives for small hydro apart from the availability of net metering.

Geothermal Incentives in North Dakota

Geothermal technology such as ground source heat pumps are a great solution to home heating if you have the right property that is well insulated and the garden space to install the pipe system needed. A number of the local utility companies offer rebate incentives for installation including the Otter Tail Power Company Energy Efficiency Rebate Program and there are also various low cost loan initiatives to help residential and commercial concerns meet the costs.

Biomass Incentives in North Dakota

North Dakota has great potential for biomass energy production both through wood pellet burning and anaerobic digestion (largely because of huge expanses of farmland and abundance of animal waste products). While most of the attention is centered on the production of biofuels at the moment, the future could see more investment in biomass power plants. Local commercial and industrial outfits can benefit from Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Electrical Generating Facilities.

Wind Power Incentives in North Dakota

The position and landscape of North Dakota delivers one of the best wind resources in North America, technology which provides over 17% of its current energy production. Most of the focus has been on large scale wind farms with further projects currently being developed, but for agricultural communities installing a turbine or two could make great economic sense. The Federal Tax Rebate of 30% can be applied and the return on investment is normally good despite the high start-up costs.

While North Dakota is ahead of the game when it comes to technology such as wind and hydroelectric, it has yet to make the most of the potential for both biomass and solar PV. Developing these technologies, and introducing more incentives, could contribute heavily to the renewable energy mix and help reduce the dependence on coal production.

You can find out more about the renewable energy incentives for North Dakota on the DSIRE website.

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