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Cleantech Glossary: Industry Terms and Definitions

Frequently Used Cleantech Terms and Definitions


Clean technology/cleantech

Comprises a diverse range of products, services, and processes that harness renewable materials and energy sources, dramatically reduce the use of limited natural resources, and reduce or eliminate pollution and toxic wastes.



Edison Electric Institute - Association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric utilities.


U.S. Energy Information Administration - An independent arm of the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.


Environmental Impact Statement - Under United States environmental law, is a document required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for certain actions "significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.


Electric motor vehicle - A motor vehicle powered by an electric motor that draws current from rechargeable storage batteries, fuel cells, photovoltaic arrays, or other sources of electric current.



Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates the price, terms and conditions of power sold in interstate commerce and regulates the price, terms and conditions of all transmission services. FERC is the federal counterpart to state utility regulatory commissions.



Greenhouse Gases - Gases such as methane and carbon dioxide which absorb infrared radiation and trap the heat in the atmosphere, thus contributing to global warming.



Independent Power Producer or Non-Utility Generator - An entity, which is not a public utility, but which owns facilities to generate electric power for sale to utilities and end-users... may be privately held facilities, corporations, cooperatives such as rural solar or wind energy producers, and non-energy industrial concerns capable of feeding excess energy into the system.


Load Shifting

Involves shifting load from peak to off-peak periods. Popular applications include the use of storage water heating, storage space heating, cool storage, and customer load shifts to take advantage of time-of-use or other special rates.



Localized power-grids that can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously and help mitigate grid disturbances to strengthen grid resilience.



Power Purchase Agreement - A contract between two parties, one who generates electricity for the purpose (the seller) and one who is looking to purchase electricity (the buyer).


Production Tax Credit - A "federal incentive that provides financial support for the development of renewable energy facilities," often used for wind power and providing a credit of 2.3 cents per kWh for the first 10 years of a project's operation.


Photovoltaic - A method of converting solar energy into direct current electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.


Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

A federal-level "dollar-for-dollar reduction in the income taxes that a person or company claiming the credit would otherwise pay the federal government. The ITC is based on the amount of investment in solar property. Thus, both the commercial and residential ITC are credits equal to 26 percent of the basis that is invested in eligible property that have projects that began in 2021 and 2022. It drops to 22 percent in 2023 and drops to 10% after that.


Utility-Scale Solar

Solar power that is normally produced on the ground ("ground mounted") and fed into the grid, usually to a utility and with a PPA.