Posts tagged incentives

New Solar Initiative May Create Jobs

President Barack Obama  announced a new initiative in his weekly radio and online address late in June; according to new directives, the government will be handing out nearly $2 billion for new solar plants.   Two companies, Abengoa Solar (which will build one of the world’s largest solar plants in Arizona, creating 1,600 construction jobs) and Abound Solar Manufacturing, which builds plants in Colorado and Indiana, will be receiving a lions share of the funding.

Obama was quoted as saying the money is part of his plan to bring new industries to the U.S., and that the initiative will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs, and increase the use of renewable energy sources.

“We’re going to keep competing aggressively to make sure the jobs and industries of the future are taking root right here in America,” Obama said. His announcement  came a day after the Labor Department reported that employers slashed payrolls last month for the first time in six months.

This was driven by the expected loss of 225,000 temporary census jobs. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate dropped to 9.5 percent, and private-sector hiring rose by 83,000 workers. New jobs in the solar energy sector are hoped to bring relief to towns in the Southwest and Midwest, where initiatives to create wind farms are also in progress.

The capacity for generating solar power in the US is as follows:

United States map showing annual average daily solar radiation per  month
Annual average daily solar radiation per month, using a flat-plate collector facing south at a fixed tilt equal to the latitude of the site. Capturing the maximum amount of solar radiation throughout the year can be achieved using a tilt angle approximately equal to the site’s latitude.

The initiative in Arizona should prove extremely efficient not only in bringing jobs to the region, but in productiveness alone.

Elsewhere, solar power use is still on the rise.  New Jersey continues to inch up on California for usage and companies like Arosa Solar are doing everything they can to encourage ordinary home and business owners to branch out into solar generation to save money and even turn a profit once the system has paid for itself. With generous rebates and stimulus packages being offered by state and federal government agencies at regular intervals, the cost of installing a system can often be almost completely recouped.

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Solar Stampede in New Jersey

New Jersey’s second phase of the Clean Energy program that offered rebates to those seeking to install photovoltaic panels for energy savings went well – almost too well. The program which opened again May 3, is already closed again – the huge flood of applications that inundated the state program in just one short week exhausted resources.

Fortunately, the program is set up for this possibility, with plans for funding to be done several times this year in expectations that cycles would see this type of response.The Clean Energy Programs’ website now says:

“In just three days, an entire cycle worth of applications were submitted for residential and nonresidential solar projects through the Renewable Energy Incentive Program… The Office of Clean Energy anticipates having a recommendation for consideration of additional funding or potential program changes at the June 7th board meeting… Please check this website on a weekly basis for updates and additional information.”

The new cycle should open September 1, instead of applicants having to wait an entire year. In the meantime, there are still plenty of rebates and incentives available at the state and federal level. These include a federal energy-efficient property tax credit for homeowners of up to 30 percent of the cost of a solar photovoltaic installation, as well as the renewable-energy credit program, which is designed to serve as a long-term inducement for installing solar PV systems.

According to data from the federal Energy Information Administration, New Jersey residents pay nearly 16 cents per kilowatt-hour as of January 2010, one of the higher average residential rates nationally. No wonder hundreds of residents are stampeding to apply for funding, making New Jersey second only to California in solar use; the state has 5,582 solar-electric projects installed as of March 31, totaling a capacity of about 149 megawatts.

While some residents may be waiting for the new cycle of rebates to begin, others are moving ahead with installation plans. Arosa Solar, a PV installation company operating out of Lakewood, New Jersey, anticipates a rise in client requests over the coming year thanks to the support being provided to make the switch to clean energy affordable for the average homeowner.

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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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