The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is arguably the most significant financial incentive for installing solar in the U.S. today. This tax credit has also helped the industry grow by more than 10,000% since it was implemented less than 15 years ago.
This year the ITC is 26% and, unless Congress extends it, it will sunset at the end of 2021 for residential solar. If you’re wondering if the ITC savings also applies to home solar battery storage, this article will walk you through everything you need to know.
Is Battery Storage Eligible for the ITC?
The ITC allows homeowners who buy and own their new solar PV system, and place it in service before December 31, 2020 to recoup up to 26% of the total cost of their solar installation through a deduction in their federal taxes (tax liability).
If a homeowner installs both a solar PV and a battery storage system, would the ITC savings extend to storage? Yes! With one very important caveat: the energy used to charge the battery storage system must come 100% from solar, and not at all from the grid.
Although energy storage devices were not written into the ITC and batteries themselves are not “solar energy properties” (equipment that generates electricity from the sun), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has interpreted the tax code in the past to include residential solar storage if it is charged exclusively from solar.
Note: Tax codes are complicated! We at Aurora Solar are solar experts, not tax experts. Please consult a tax professional for your specific situation.
What About Adding Storage to an Existing PV System?
If a homeowner wants to add storage to their existing PV system, it may still qualify for the ITC! In a 2018 private ruling, the IRS clarified that the ITC can still be applied to a battery storage system if it is added within a year of the qualified solar installation.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
- Technically private rulings only apply to that specific case addressed by the IRS, but because the IRS has ruled on multiple occasions that solar energy storage (when met by certain conditions) are eligible for the ITC, it’s widely accepted that storage is eligible.
- Energy storage systems without a qualified renewable energy source are not eligible for the ITC.
- There may be other financial incentives available for solar storage. State and/or local energy providers may also offer storage incentives. If they do, you can couple that with the ITC for additional savings.
- Unless Congress renews the ITC, 2021 is the last year residential solar and storage are eligible for this incentive.
We’ve written about the ITC extensively in the past; most recently in an article about solar incentives in California and how the ITC step down will work for residential and commercial solar projects. If you want to dig even deeper, we have a beginners guide to financial incentives for installing solar and a 5-part article series on solar finance 101.
If you’re looking for resources to brush up on your solar and storage sales, check out our solar sales articles. Here are a few we’d recommend starting with:
- 3 Ways to Market and Sell Solar Storage More Successfully
- Getting Started With Remote Solar Sales
- How to Unlock More Remote Sales Opportunities According to Remote Sales Expert J.P. Gerken
Sunny Wang is Aurora Solar’s Director of Government Affairs and Communications. Previously, she was the Assistant Director of a new interdisciplinary research initiative at Stanford University. She received her Masters in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University and graduated Pi Alpha Alpha from CSU, Fullerton.