New Jersey PV More Accessible than Ever

Home and business owners in New Jersey and other leading solar energy states can look forward to yet another drop in pricing for photovoltaic systems in 2010.

PV systems have been increasing in number as the benefits and incentives become available to home and business owners. However, although the rate of growth has been tremendous over the past ten years, it has been constrained by the shortage of manufacturing capacity for purified polysilicon. This material is what makes up the semiconductor chips in PV systems, and in 2006, for the first time, over 50% of the world’s polysilicon was used to produce solar PV cells.

Supply shortages have forced many manufacturers to develop ways to use polysilicon more efficiently. New technology that does not depend on purified silicon allows thin film cells and amorphous silicon to be used instead, reducing overall costs. Thin film cells were initially not efficient enough to compete with conventional cells, but have been redesigned to make PV panels cheaper to manufacture.

In 2008, polysilicon supply to the solar industry grew by 127% in megawatt terms. The US contributed substantially to this figure; over 43% of the world’s supplies came from the United States.

For New Jersey, where alternative power is becoming the avenue more and more business owners are taking, PV costs continue to drop. Thanks to the reduction in cost for thin cell materials and the generous incentives offered by state and federal agencies, photovoltaic systems can now be installed with small upfront investments, and be completely paid off in short order (recent projections showed that a business installing a 40+ kw system could be free and clear in less than five years.

“The average price for a PV module, excluding installation and other system costs, has dropped from almost $100 per watt in 1975 to less than $4 per watt at the end of 2006. With expanding polysilicon supplies, average PV prices are projected to drop to $2 per watt in 2010.

For thin-film PV alone, production costs are expected to reach $1 per watt in 2010, at which point solar PV will become competitive with coal-fired electricity. With concerns about rising oil prices and climate change spawning political momentum for renewable energy, solar electricity is poised to take a prominent position in the global energy economy.” *

(* Earth Policy Institute)

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PV Costs Dropping in 2010

With New Jersey, California and other heavy alternative energy states causing PV installations to double and triple over the last five years, the US is poised to take the lead in the race for the most solar power produced. Costs continues to be an issue, but new grants from the federal government make initial setup a viable investment for many – and more financial relief is on the way.

In 2005, it was predicted that the solar industry would see a rapid decline in costs by 2010, making PV a mainstream power option. *

Global production of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells doubled almost twice between 2000 and 2005, and grew an additional 41 percent in 2006 alone. Grid-connected solar capacity provides less than 1 percent of the world’s electricity, but this figure is set for rapid expansions as the US surges to the forefront making PV easier and more cost effective to obtain.

US federal incentives, loans and grants along with state funded rebates for homeowners and businesses which install photovoltaic systems have boosted the country’s move towards alternative energy sources, with states like New Jersey leading the way.

Those who install photovoltaic systems can now see their costs cut up front by both loans and tax breaks, allowing them to set up systems with little cost up front. Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, or SRECs, can further defray the cost, paying down the loans and providing a free and clear system in less than five years in some cases.

At that point the SRECs become a source of income (they trade on the open market for prices ranging from $585 to nearly $700 in New Jersey) – plus electricity costs continue to be largely defrays be the energy output of the system. The benefit to business owners is tremendous – a one time investment can yield up to 20 years of service from a dependable PV system that actually earns money.

All of this has led to the rising number of business owners who opt to install PV systems, and the cost as defrayed by the many incentive programs has effectively dropped approximately 40% as detailed by the 2005 report.

(*Assessments made by the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Prometheus Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts).

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New Jersey Solar Loan Program Funded Through 2012

Last November, New Jersey regulators approved a proposal from utility Public Service Electric and Gas to expand its solar loan program by $143 million and 51 megawatts. What does this mean to New Jersey home and business owners seeking to install photovoltaic systems to defray heating and electricity costs? A lot.

The program expansion brings the loan totals up to a projected $248 million, which means about 81 megawatts worth of solar systems have become available across the state. Even municipalities are getting in on the action, converting publick works such as streetlamps and city buildings over to solar power.

The first loan program approved by PSEG for installing photovoltaic panels kicked in back in April 2008. The program resulted in about $105 million in loans (30 megawatts worth of solar systems) being applied for. This new expansion falls under new regulations, and is expected to kick start another wave of interest in PV by residents of New Jersey.

The Solar Loan II Program is expected to run for 2 years or until an additional 51 in solar systems have been installed; people who apply for the loan can expect to have half the cost of a photovoltaic system installation covered. The 10-year loans for residential homeowners, and 15-year loans for commercial or municipal customers can be repaid in cash or via earned Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs).

Since SRECs currently trade upward of $600 in New Jersey, this allows the loans to be paid pack with virtually no burden on the loan holder, edpending on the size of system installed.The second half of photovoltaic system costs may also be covered in part by New Jersey Clean Energy Program rebates and federal tax credits or grants.

Arosa Solar is doing its part to install as many solar systems as possible while the loan program exists, creating custom photovoltaic systems for home and businesses in the New Jersey area.

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US Set to Lead in Global PV Output; New Jersey Catching up to California

According to GreenTech Media Research, the United States is closing in on the front runner position to head the global solar photovoltaic (PV) marketplace. The US is poised on the brink of growth explosion, and sales are expected to double by 2011.

German solar industry association BSW states that Germany is currently the largest solar PV market worldwide, but the report (titled ‘The United States PV Market Through 2013: Project Economics, Policy, Demand and Strategy’) indicates that the U.S. will sweep past Germany to take first place globally in the field of solar sales and installation.

The reason? US demand for solar has skyrocketed thanks to federal mandates, and is expected to keep growing, with a rise of about 50 percent, from 320 megawatts in 2008 to a projected 1,212 megawatts (1.2 gigawatts) in 2012. There is even the possibility of topping  2 gigawatts by that date if federal, state and regional incentives keep expanding.

California currently holds the title for US solar PV leadership, but rising solar PV demand puts other states (Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada and Massachusetts) in play. These are expected to  collectively support 376 megawatts of PV generated electricity by  2012.

The growth is expected to occur primarily in residential and utility-scale sectors. Investors are increasingly willing to support utility-scale solar as a reliable, long-term investment thanks to state renewable portfolio standards, or RPSs. These mandate higher limits of renewable energy in a utility’s generation mix. Utility or power companies unable to comply can make up the deficit by buying credits from residential and commercial owners of PV systems through SREC programs like the one available in New Jersey..

New Jersey offers solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs, for energy produced through PV. These trade in excess of $600 on the market, and cqan be purchased by private investors against rises in future value, or by power companies to help satisfy their alternative energy quotas.

In addition, the grants available to commercial installations make it easier for mom and pop stores to install and run PV systems – the average time to pay off a system is four years, and all SRECs generated after that time are pure profit.

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New Jersey Business Owners Eligible for Grants

Commercial PV systems now falling under federal grant guidelines for clean energy

New Jersey business owners can now receive a grant to help defray the cost of purchasing and installing a photovoltaic system, making ‘going green’ even more affordable for even small businesses.

For FYE 2009 and FYE 2010, treasury grants are now available to those who choose to install photovoltaic systems in New Jersey and elsewhere. Formerly, businesses could qualify for a federal tax credit, but a new system has been set up to allow the U.S. Treasury Department to issue grants equal to 30% of the cost of new commercial solar installation projects initiated in the US over the next 2 years.

New Jersey business owners can receive a cash grant through this federal stimulus package. The maximum benefit equals $1,500 per 0.5 kW for qualified fuel cell property; between 10 and 30% of the cost of teh system. Grant applications must be submitted by 10/1/2011. Payment of grant will be made within 60 days of the grant application date or the date property is placed in service, whichever is later.

This is a better system than the original tax credit available, and these grants can still be combined with other incentives and loans available at the federal and state level for photovoltaic installations. PV systems can save New Jersey businesses considerable costs over a five to ten year period, and bring in additional revenue by qualifying for the state’s SREC program.

Visit Arosa Solar to learn more about PV systems and federal grants in place.

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What Size PV System do I Need?

Matching Your Load With Your PV System

If you have determined that PV is the best way to meet your energy needs, you need to size your system to effectively meet your daily load. You will need the answers to the following questions and the assistance of an expert to make an informed decision.

What is your budget? Remember, in New Jersey and many other states, the government offers rebates and tax credits at the federal and state levels. It is cheaper overall to install a larger system all at once than to only add a few kilowatt system and add later. A 10 kw system is generally required to qualify for net metering, and for registration online to earn SRECs.

Does your load need to be met all day every day? If not, what percentage of your energy needs do you hope to supply with your system?

Will you need to stay hooked into the grid if there are extended periods when the sun does not shine? New Jersey and surrounding states can experience periods of cloudiness for days, especially in winter.

What are has your average electricity usage been over the past few years?

Does your utility company allow net metering (will they let you have energy when you need it, and buy back from you when you have excess)?

Once you have determined what your budget and expected usage are, you can calculate the size system you should purchase. A chart is available for calculating square footage of roofing needed by the efficiency of your proposed PV modules here.

Your first step is to determine your average daily usage in kilowatt hours. Most bills will have this displayed either as a daily average over the month or the total kilowatt hours used over the month. Look at your average over the year to get the best estimate of your usage.

Use the chart found here to estimate the number of clear, partially cloudy and cloudy days per year in your state or town. This will give you an idea of how much monthly production you can have at different times of year.

Arosa Solar can help you estimate the size PV system you will need to produce any percentage of your building’s energy. You can work the figures backwards if you are buying based on a budget, multiplying the number of sunlight hours / day times the number of kilowatts a prospective system would produce. This will give you an idea of what percentage of your home’s power could be replaced with solar energy on an average day.

Go solar!

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Easy Ways to Save Using Solar Energy

Summertime has arrived in New Jersey, and energy costs are on the rise. Running the air conditioner makes many people cringe, as it drives up energy consumption and bills. For those not yet able to make the full leap to completely solar driven power usage, solar attic fans can help decrease the level of energy needed to keep your home cool.

Solar Attic Fans

Solar attic fans can decrease the cooling load on your air conditioner. They increase fresh air circulation, keeping your roof and attic space cooler and extending the life of your roof. They come on when the sun is out and heating up your roof and attic, so they only work when needed to cool down the worst of the hot air.

Two fan options are generally available with adjustable solar panels. The 10 watt ventilates 1200 sq feet and the 20 watt covers 1800 sq feet. Installation costs range between $475 to $600, and most fans will pay for themselves in just a few years by reducing energy needs and prolonging the lifetime of most roofs.

Solar Tube Lighting

Solar tube lighting can be a tremendous money saver at any time of year, bringing natural lighting into your home or business. Installed lights range from approximately $350 to $600. The expense is worth it, as they will pay for themselves over time by reducing costs from electricity and standard light bulb purchases. The highly reflective light pipes can be up to 18-20 feet long, and are made of high grade aluminum with seamless construction.

Tubular skylights are smaller than most other skylights. They have roof-mounted solar collectors, which increase their daylighting potential even with their small size. Since a rooftop solar collector has such a small surface area, tubular skylights minimize heat loss in the winter and heat gain in summer.

The diameter of the tube determines the coverage area. A 10 inch solar light will cover up to 150 sq feet, and provide the equivalent of up to 300 watts. A 13 inch tube has a coverage of 300 sq feet, with about 500 watts. A 21 inch light covers 700 sq feet and delivers up to 1450 watts.

Both of these options can help you keep energy costs down. Contact Arosa Solar and talk to an expert about how you can save money by using the clean, renewable energy of the sun.

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