Posts tagged solar

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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New Jersey Solar Installations Still on the Rise – But For How Long?

New Jersey has been forging ahead on the solar scene. The New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program was boosting employment for contractors and sub-contractors in the state, according to recent reports from the NJ Spotlight; however, budget cuts with funds being diverted from the clean energy program to solve other budgetary issues has caused that spike to drop off sharply. A portion of the story, published in March, related:

Ed Hutchinson figures his heating and air conditioning business would be a lot less robust. He might even employ up to 60 fewer people than the 200 now working for Hutchinson Mechanical Services in Cherry Hill. That’s why he and at least a dozen other contractors showed up in Trenton today to protest deep cuts in the program, an initiative that gives rebates and other incentives to homeowners and businesses to dramatically curb how much energy they use. “We should further invest here because we’re putting people to work,” Hutchinson told the Board of Public Utilities commissioners at the state Department of Environmental Protection building.

These comments were made at a hearing concerning the diversion of $158 million in funds from the clean energy program; although the state’s precarious financial position is understood by most, the prevailing majority who spoke up at the meeting  protested the move and said there had to be a better way to balance the state budget. In addition to the confiscation of clean energy funds, $128 million was diverted from the Retail Margin Fund, which was earmarked to build more energy efficient power plants, and another $65 million taken from a fund designed to combat greenhouse gases.

The BPU will rule on whether or not to downsize the state’s energy efficiency program later this year, but in the meantime the latest round of funding for photovoltaic installations was claimed inside of a week. Many local New Jersey players are concerned that the state’s previous commitment to clean energy may be faltering; New Jersey is solidly at #2 among the states in terms of solar installations, and was anticipated to eventually pass California (currently #1). Quotes include a vast array of contractors, clean energy advocates and concerned citizens:

  • Bruce Grossman, program manager for South Jersey Gas: [sic] reducing incentives in the energy efficiency program will have a “chilling effect on economic momentum in the marketplace.”
  • Grace Sica, Sierra Club of New Jersey: “We’re setting New Jersey’s green economy to flounder.”
  • John Conforti, of Air Group in Whippany (HVAC company:  “This program is working excellent.”
  • Sara Bluhm, a vice president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association: [sic] more money needs to be invested in commercial solar installations and industrial projects where an $11 ROI is common compared to only a 4% ROI in residential installations.
  • Matt Elliott, clean energy advocate for Environment New Jersey: “It sends a signal that maybe we are not as serious about clean energy as we say we are.

With utility prices continuing to climb, and rebates and incentives for solar installations still to be found elsewhere, many are still moving towards photovoltaic installation – but cutting funding will cause a slowdown. Arosa Solar in Lakewood New Jersey is already offering a ‘rebate’ to customers who missed the latest funding cycle, to keep customers coming in.

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Need for Photovoltaic Installations can Create Jobs

A new report released late last year indicates climate change as a leading net job creator for the U.S. economy. According to the report, the burgeoning need for renewable energy and energy efficiency is creating a flood of deployment towards the goal of creating up to 4.5 million new U.S. jobs by 2030.

The ultimate aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emission in an amount necessary to actually tackle climate change. Among the six possibilities to work towards this goal are photovoltaic solar installations, which is already a booming market in pales like New Jersey.

The report entitled, Estimating the Jobs Impact of Tackling Climate Change, was released by the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) based in Boulder and Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI) based in Washington, D.C.

According to the report, renewable energy and energy efficiency deployment costs would be offset by savings from lower energy bills. The report states:

Tackling Climate Change initiative differ dramatically among technologies and over time.  For example, in 2020, energy efficiency has net savings of $85 billion, and all of the  renewable energy technologies except for biofuels have net costs. By 2030, energy efficiency’s savings attributable to the initiative have declined to $17 billion, and all of the RE technologies except wind and biofuels have net costs.

In early 2009, we projected this 2007 data to 2030 under three scenarios—
base case, moderate incentives, and an aggressive scenario
involving a national sustained commitment to a green economy. In the
aggressive scenario, we forecast that by 2030, industry sales could
reach $4.3 trillion, and the EE&RE industry could be an economic
driver responsible for nearly 37 million jobs—about 17 percent of the
2030 American workforce.

Brad Collins, ASES’ Executive Director, said “The twin challenges of climate change and economic stagnation can be solved by the same action—broad, aggressive, sustained deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency -the solution for one is the solution for the other.”

The jobs created would not be limited to certain regions or sectors, but would be widely dispersed throughout virtually all industries and occupations in the US, including the professions of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, administrative assistants, machinists, cashiers, management analysts, civil engineers, and sheet metal workers.

The report also claims that 57% of carbon emissions reductions would be from energy efficiency and 43% would be from renewable energy, such as solar PV systems and wind power installations. Specifically, the report reveals that ‘The greatest numbers of renewable energy jobs are generated by solar photovoltaics, biofuels, biomass, and concentrating solar power sectors.’ The report assessed six renewable energy technologies: concentrating solar power, photovoltaics, wind power, biomass, biofuels, and geothermal power.

PV installations are now subsidized by state and federal funding, grants, and rebates to allow nearly anyone to reduce emissions, save on power costs, and contribute to the Climate Change effort.

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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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