The US economic stimulus package contains an innovative provision for renewable energy development that could be copied elsewhere at very little cost to the taxpayer.
Currently, projects such as solar, wind or wave power development involve a large initial cost with the financial returns spread over a long period. Companies undertaking these developments incur an initial loss which is carried forward and eventually offset against profits to reduce tax. The new US provision allows such developers to swap their future tax credits for immediate cash from the Department of Energy. The companies can then use this cash to fund part of the development with no significant net cost to the taxpayer over the longer term.
Other provisions of the stimulus plan include $5 billion for "weatherization" of more than a million homes, $4.5 billion for energy upgrades of government buildings, $4.5 billion to upgrade the electricity grid and $8 billion for new high-speed rail systems.