RTC Policy Finder: Scope & Glossary
The database organizes policies primarily by state. Policies enacted by any U.S. state or the District of Columbia fall within the database’s scope. However, the scope excludes policies that do not apply to an entire state but only to certain counties or municipalities. Federal policies are not currently included in the database but will be added soon.
This database compiles policies that industrial, commercial, and institutional entities (including non-profits) may utilize to deploy a defined set of renewable thermal technologies. It also includes some policies which may impact decisions regarding these technologies, such as regulations or standards. The database generally excludes policies that only apply to utilities or government entities. The database only includes policies or programs which have been enacted and which did not expire before research for this product began in 2022. The database does not yet include policies and programs from public utility commissions – it focuses on legislatures and state agencies. See below for details on the policy type categories used by the Policy Finder.
Grants include sums of money given by governments for use on renewable thermal projects. These programs may or may not require reporting, evaluation, or the procurement of matching funds. This category generally focuses more on policies offsetting the cost of technology deployment than research, development, and demonstration of novel technologies.
RD&D (Research, Development, & Demonstration)
This category includes any policy or programs which supports research, development, or demonstrations of renewable thermal technologies. While such support often takes the form of a grant, this category focuses on policies promoting innovation of novel technologies.
This category includes standards and other policies that mandate emissions reductions or other outcomes that incentivize renewable thermal technologies. Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) or similar policies fall under this category because while they only directly regulate utilities and not industrial, commercial, or institutional entities, they enable decarbonization through electrification for all users of the electric grid. RPSs also sometimes include renewable thermal technologies or fuels as eligible for inclusion or mandate their use, which supports the scaling of renewable thermal solutions.
Study / Task Force
Studies commissioned by state governments fall into this category, as do task forces or other teams established by states to advance renewable thermal technologies.
Sustainable finance covers policies providing funding for renewable thermal projects but not through grants or tax incentives. Often, these types of policies require repayment, such as loans or bonds. Other examples of sustainable finance include Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, green banks, equity investments, or other creative financing measures enacted by state governments.
This category includes any policy or program which aims to lowers the cost of renewable thermal systems using the tax code, such as tax exemptions, abatements, and credits.
Many states offer programs and funding to provide low- or no-cost technical assistance for renewable thermal projects, including efficiency assessments and energy audits.
The scope of the database includes policies supporting the acceleration of renewable technologies to generate heating or cooling from entirely renewable resources and that can be deployed at industrial or commercial scales. The database organizes these technologies into the following categories: biogas, biomass, geothermal, green hydrogen, landfill gas, renewable electrification, renewable natural gas / biomethane, solar thermal, and thermal energy storage. The electrification category also includes policies that support the deployment of renewable electricity technologies directly on industrial or commercial sites, which supports electrification. Many of the included technologies often improve efficiency, leading to the inclusion of many energy efficiency policies in the database. Biodiesel gets categorized under biogas. Policies applicable to all renewable energy have been marked with all the technology categories used in the database, although they may apply to unlisted technologies as well.
Number of Relevant Technologies
In the list of search results, the “# of Relevant Technologies” column shows the number of technology categories to which each policy applies. Because this database uses nine categories, policies applying to all renewable energy technologies will be shown with counts of nine. The count does not include applicable technologies outside of this database’s categories.