The past few weeks have been busy with the solar industry with the PV America East expo wrapping up, Honda partnering with Solar City and new PV solar panel technologies being unveiled. Here are some things going on around the solar industry in the Mid-Atlantic.
Be Green and Save Green. A Maryland solar energy company is offering a free solar workshop to homeowners interested in making the switch to solar. The workshop is being held on March 16th, St. Patty’s Day, and will focus on the local solar industry, how solar works, the latest technologies and financial concerns.
Honda in the Home Solar Game. A recent partnership has been formed between Honda and Solar City in hopes of inspiring residential solar growth across the country. Honda will be offering financing options for $65 million worth of residential solar panel systems installed through Solar City. This not only helps Honda’s push towards a ‘greener’ branding image but many American’s ability to afford making the solar switch.
Workforce Development within Multiple Industries. The Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF) has implemented a workforce development strategy for “five priority projects” that have yet to be selected. This is good news for the solar industry, as training programs will help solar companies hire more skilled, trained workers.
Maryland Residential Solar Initiative. The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has announced they will fund over $3 million worth of solar upgrades to low-middle income Maryland families. There are 43 planned projects across 18 counties in Maryland including Baltimore to aid those less fortunate as well as creating jobs for solar installation firms. The initiative is estimated to offer Maryland residents almost $7 million in energy savings during the lifetime of the project.
From free workshops to $3.3 million energy efficiency grants, everyone is finding a way to help others in one way or another. Solar energy is a sustainable circle that’s aids everyone involved, including the Earth.
The falling costs of photovoltaics, additional federal, state and local tax exemptions; and the increasing number of financing and leasing options, are all reasons why the future of the solar energy industry is looking more promising. Check out these prime examples that showcase these trends:
- The Capital’s Solar Exemption – An amendment act procured in 2012 states that residents of Washington D.C. are allowed to exempt their solar energy solutions from their personal property tax. This not only cuts the cost of solar installation and ownership, but inspires growth of solar construction across the country’s capital.
- Solar in Centreville, MD – A small town of about 4,500 located an hour east of Baltimore has agreed with a Maryland solar energy firm to begin construction of a solar farm. The solar farm is said to begin construction in August, and should yield almost $2 million worth of savings in the first two years.
- Finance Your Future – A recent report by GTM Research reveals that the solar financing market may reach $5.7 billion by the year 2016, in a 2013-2016 industry forecast. The explosion of residential and commercial thirty-party ownership (TPO) vendors in the past 2-3 years has helped the solar energy industry grow and has given many American’s a chance to save on utilities and invest well into their foreseeable futures.
- Sun’s Rising, Costs Falling – Between the increasing finance and lease options, improving government incentives, and overall ROI, many can see why solar is an attractive opportunity in our current economy. Renewable Energy Corporation’s Ryan McNeill breaks down why photovoltaic costs are falling, and why now may be an opportune time to make the solar switch.
It’s always great to hear about success, especially when it affects us. With the sudden spur of solar growth, and continuing efforts to become more environmentally conscious, solar just makes sense. If you actively follow the progression of the renewable energy industry, it’s easy to see an upward trend in awareness, growth and ROI.
As the first month of the year wraps up, solar activity in Maryland continues to push forward and grow. Locations such as restaurants and local food establishments are adding solar to power their businesses, recognizing the true benefits that solar has to offer. Here are some fine examples that prove solar growth is always on the up and up in Maryland.
- A Solar Meat Market. Boarman’s Old Fashioned Howard County Meat Market has finished installing a 204.96 kW solar panel system that is said to reduce the meat market’s carbon footprint by almost 560,000 pounds. It has been mentioned that the solar panel system will generate $75,000 in revenue, annually.
- McCutcheon Chooses Solar. A Frederick based fine foods company, McCutcheon’s Apple Products Inc., has recently begun installation of a 131 kW solar-powered system. The solar panel system is being leased, meaning McCutcheon still reaps most of the benefits of solar, minus the tax rebates that the solar panel system brings.
- Giving Back In More Ways than One. A local couple of Chestertown, Maryland installed a solar panel system on their house that not only supplies 100% of their annual power consumption, but feeds electricity back into the town’s power grid. The homeowner, Dr. Neil Stoddard notes that the system has generated in excess of 24,000 kW since installation in 2011.
- Solar in Ocean City. Shawn Harman, owner of Fish Tales (a restaurant) and the Bahia Marina in Ocean City, Maryland has converted to solar. With his $100,000 stake in solar, Harman hopes to recoup his investment through electricity savings and selling back Maryland SREC’s. Pre-solar, Harman mentioned the marina and restaurant electric bill could top $10,000 monthly and with solar, hopes to cut that by 20%. Read more about this story at Delmarva Now.
As Maryland-based businesses continue to invest in solar energy, the environmental and financial benefits can truly be seen and appreciated by many.
Coming off of a record 2012, the solar industry has wasted no time getting things rolling in the New Year. Whether it’s tearing down an old solar plant or educating homeowners who want to cut their energy costs, the solar industry is on the move, and it’s not slowing down.
- Providence at Fleming Park. A high-performance residential contractor has created an astonishingly energy-efficient 6,000 sq. ft. home in Bethesda, MD. The home is outfitted with PV Solar panels, features top-of-the-line heating and cooling systems, and employs the newest construction methods to make this “high-performance” home the perfect combination of exclusivity and efficiency. The home is open for viewing and available for purchase.
- Solar workshop in MD. A renewable energy company in Maryland is hosting a free workshop in hopes to educate homeowners about the solar industry, how solar works, important financial information, and how to choose the right solar contractor. The workshop will be hosted on January 26th, 2013 from 10am to Noon in Elkridge, Maryland. Lunch, gifts, and a solar tour are all included in the workshop session.
- What goes up must come down. A solar facility and large solar array is being torn down after 32 years in Frederick. The former BP solar plant once housed 500 workers that built solar panels and was operated under 3 companies during its 32 year tenure. Bristol Capital Corp., the site’s current owner, says the land will become home to a new business park.
As Maryland’s solar industry continues to expand with more residences installing solar panels every day, the state is becoming less dependent on electricity from traditional power sources. Even with the loss of BP’s former solar plant, Maryland continues to push forth with their renewable energy initiatives and continually expands its efforts for a greater good.
As we jump in 2013, solar energy is still a hot topic in Maryland and continues to push forward as one of the largest aspects of renewable energy being put to use. This week we take a look at a few solar energy projects that will come to life in 2013.
- Solar Farm / Hughesville Maryland – Another solar farm is on the rise in Maryland. A month and a half after Hughesville’s first solar farm went operational, a Maryland electric company has decided to build a second 5.5 MW solar array, said to power around 600 homes.
- Kohl’s Solar Rooftop / Edgewater Maryland – Following Costco and Walmart, Kohl’s is now the third largest commercial roof-top user of solar energy in the US. Recently, Kohl’s Edgewater location installed a 2.4 MW solar panel array on the rooftop of their store; this is just one of their 150 locations using solar.
- The Pursuit of Solar / Manchester Maryland – Manchester, a small town of about 5000 people, is contemplating installing a solar array to offset costs of the town’s power consumption. Mentioned in an article by The Advocate, the Town Administrator, Steve Miller, says the system will supply around 1.5 MW of energy.
Whether it’s a small town 1 MW solar array, or a commercial enterprise installing a 10 MW system, renewable energy can be used by anyone, almost anywhere. Towns, businesses and even individuals are capitalizing on the “free-power” that the sun emits, and they’re keeping money in their pockets while helping save the environment, one megawatt at a time.
As we get ready to dive into the New Year, the solar energy industry continues to move forward with new developments all across the country, and Maryland, once again, is no exception. Maryland will see a variety of advancements in solar energy, solar industry jobs, and solar PV in the coming months. The following is some of the latest developments in the state.
- Smart Grid / White Oak Maryland - Maryland will soon have a solution to power outages following a natural disaster. The newest development, smart grid, will help reduce power outages to homes and businesses and reduce how long the outage lasts. The smart grid allows for shared power across sectors by utilizing renewable resources.
- Powerhouse Solar Singles / State of Maryland – Dow Chemical Company, located in Michigan, has developed a roofing material that lets homes and businesses use solar energy with their roof. The powerhouse solar shingles will turn the sun’s rays into electricity, allowing for convenient solar power and a reduction in energy costs. It is now available in seven states, including Maryland.
- Solar PV / State of Maryland – Maryland is looking at an increase of the solar energy market, per the US Solar Market Insight: Third Quarter 2012 report. The report revealed a 44% increase in the solar photovoltaics (PV) market in the US, which makes 2011 the third largest year in history for solar power. PV converts sunlight to electricity and there are currently 5.9 gigawatts of PV from over 271,000 installations in the U.S.
- Solar Energy Job Market / State of Maryland – 2012 marks the year for a job market expansion in solar energy. Maryland job seekers will have new opportunities in the solar industry with an increase of 13.2% of jobs in the industry. Jobs are defined as those where the employee spends at least half of their working time on solar energy. Individuals in Maryland can expect to see even more solar energy jobs in the new year.
Whether it’s solar industry jobs or the modernization of electrical grids, the State of Maryland is poised for growth in solar energy improvements and expansions anywhere the sun shines.
This week’s rendition of Maryland Solar Energy News brings to light some important and exciting news in the Mid-Atlantic renewables industry. With The Solar Foundation’s ‘3rd Annual Solar Job Census’ hot off of the press, and the MDV-SEIA’s ‘6th Annual Solar Energy Focus Conference’ now complete, Marylander’s have a lot to look forward to going into 2013.
- Solar Industry’s Top Execs Meet. Last week in Washington, D.C. top executives, CEO’s and other Solar industry leaders met at MDV-SEIA’s 6th Annual Solar Energy Focus Conference to discuss the Mid-Atlantic’s current state of solar energy progress and what the future holds. PV Magazine mentions that the conference only proved that growth in the solar industry will only advance, especially with the recent outcome of the Presidential election.
- Assortment of solar installations across the country. Cox Enterprises, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia recently completed an installation of 3 MW solar array in Massachusetts to sell energy back to the local utility company. Cox Enterprises, as mentioned by the Taunton Gazette, continues with their renewable energy projects across the country, including in the great state of Maryland.
- Education Goes Solar. Hagerstown Community College is getting a solar panel array of their own. Last week, students and faculty of HCC toured the solar farm and were educated about solar; the benefits, how solar works, and even had a hands-on experience about panel installation. Read more about this educational solar tour at the Herald Mail.
- Solar Jobs – Get Excited! Believe it or not, the solar energy industry was one of the fastest growing industries in 2012. Visit Green Building Elements and learn why the solar industry is booming.
As the national economy slowly heals, the solar energy industry booms and shows promising growth in years to come.
From your typical 4kW residential solar-powered system to a state-of-the-art 4mW solar facility, activity in the Maryland solar energy industry continues to thrive. And with Super Storm Sandy a few weeks behind us, recently-powerless residents on the East coast are thinking twice about solar power.
- Howard County Solar Farm Expansion. The Nixon farm in West Friendship, MD continues to increase the scale of their 10 megawatt solar panel array, said to be capable of powering 5000 Howard county homes. The solar project is looking to expand its operations, but not before the Howard County Council provides its approval. Voting on the expansion begins December 3rd, 2012.
- A Smarter, Renewable Power Grid. With so many Maryland residents left powerless following Hurricane Sandy’s wake, you can’t help but wonder if solar power could have helped. Baltimore Sun contributor Archana Sharma, mentions that parts of Maryland’s smart power grid is designed to accept renewable energy input. She follows by asking why these grids are not harvesting renewable energy like they were designed to. You can read more about Archana’s theory at The Baltimore Sun.
- Solar Panels That Work After Dark. A recent interview by CNN brings to light what an MIT professor is doing to develop a “liquid metal battery” to provide energy at any time. With prototypes coming out in 2014, this technology could bring a lot of benefits to the renewable energy industry in a very short amount of time. States all across the country, including Maryland, could harvest this technology in conjunction with current renewables to reach a greener good for the state, the environment and the globe.
- Sam’s Club Goes Solar. According to The Daily Times (Salisbury News), the Salisbury, MD Sam’s Club is going solar. With the current Maryland solar-push, everyone seems to be going green, even the big-box stores. Wal-Mart has around 180 stores that use solar power (a good amount on the West Coast) and is trying to expand that number with their newest solar array installation in Maryland.
- Solar Power and Hurricane Sandy. Could solar power have helped Maryland during Superstorm Sandy? Sustainablog explores the benefits of solar panels and other solar technologies during and after a natural disaster.
Even with the high upfront costs of going solar, many still see the initial expense as a worthy investment into the future of their companies, homes and to the environment.
Everyone talks about solar energy, but no one does anything about it. At least that’s the way it has seemed since the 1970s, when generating power from sunlight first became a mainstream topic of conversation. But a slew of recent events in the state of Maryland show that the renewable energy movement is steadily gaining traction.
- Westover, Maryland – An old farm will soon be in the harvesting business again. But this time the crop will be electricity created from photovoltaic panels, thanks to a solar power company. Expected output is expected to reach four megawatts, effectively doubling the amount of sun-based energy generated in this rural area.
- Caroline County, Maryland – A solar design firm recently completed construction of an eight-acre facility in this coastal community. The electricity generated will be used to power three public schools. The finished project contains over 8200 ground-based panels and will provide not only energy but also a learning opportunity for the students.
- Rock Hall, Maryland – Mayor Robert Willis recently announced his town has embarked on a partnership with a local utility that will provide 75% of the power needs for several public buildings. These include a water treatment facility, an elementary school, and town hall. The energy will be generated by 5300 ground-based panels and create 1674 megawatt hours of electricity, which will be sold to the town on a metered basis.
- Washington, DC - Solar Energy Focus 2012, the premier solar power event on the East Coast, is coming to the nation’s capitol on November 27-28. The event will draw hundreds of experts and other officials together to discuss ways to promote the future of solar and other renewable energy forms. More information is available at the official web site.
Sometimes change comes quickly, as it does during political revolutions or major weather events. Other times it arrives at a slower pace, like with a steady drip of water that forms a canyon over eons. For renewable energy advocates, it often seems like the widespread use of solar technologies might take centuries as well. But so long as progress is being made, the future of the movement and of a cleaner, healthier planet is assured. That’s something to be thankful for at this time of year.
Maryland’s solar energy industry continues to grow, and Maryland homeowners continue to embrace the economical and environmental benefits of solar power. This week we’re highlighting several stories about the growth of solar in Maryland.
- Students Explore Solar Energy in Hagerstown. Hagerstown Community College has launched a new initiative with First Solar Inc. to provide students and faculty site visits, guest lectures, internships and a digital “dashboard” at HCC’s STEM Building to give them an in-depth view of the 20-megawatt Maryland solar facility under construction in Washington County. The college will also get solar panels from Maryland Solar, which will allow the college to install and maintain a ground-mounted solar power plant and a roof-mounted PV system.
- Howard County Approves Solar Power Station. Howard County recently approved construction of the county’s largest solar power station. Baltimore-based Bith Energy Inc., an engineering and consulting compan, got the go-ahead to build 10,400-panel solar array capable of generating up to 2 megawatts of electricity. The project could expand to 10 megawatts if a zoning application is approved. The project will be the first in the county built strictly to sell solar power to a utility.
- Maryland Solar Projects Win Grants. The Maryland Energy Administration will provide cost-sharing grants to three solar energy projects as part of its Game Changer Competitive Grant Program, which rewards clean energy generation technologies in Maryland. Among the winning projects is a solar energy microgrid and a solar-powered energy storage and electric vehicle charging station. A solar hot water heater also was named among the winners.
- Maryland Solar Company Named to Sierra Club GreenCheck® List. Timonium-based Renewable Energy Corporation has been named a Sierra Club GreenCheck® provider. The Maryland solar installer provides residential solar panel installations and features American-made solar panels from SolarWorld USA.
Stay tuned for other news about advances in solar energy in Maryland.