College of the Atlantic Solar Power - Bar Harbor Maine

A ground-mounted solar electric installation for College of the Atlantic, wrapped up in the last few weeks of 3013

2013 was a banner year for the international solar industry, with a number of milestone moments (most citations courtesy: Green Tech Media):

  • Several times during the year, Germany’s renewable energy provided 60% of peak load for the country (compared to a fraction of a % in the USA).  Overall the wholesale price for electricity fell 12% Year-over-Year in Germany.
  • Here in the USA, solar made up nearly 20 percent of all new energy capacity, making solar the second largest source of new energy capacity.
  • For the first time in fifteen years, in 2013 the US installed more solar than Germany
  • 2/3 of worldwide solar was installed in the last 2 1/2 years, and predictions are that solar will double again in the next 2 1/2 years
  • The ‘blended’ cost per watt of solar panel installations nationwide fell to $3.00/watt – the lowest price in history.

For our part, ReVision Energy:

  • Continued to grow, hiring eight new full-time staff members in Maine and four in New Hampshire. We also had two paid summer internship positions
  • Installed over 2,000 kw of solar PV in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.
  • Installed over 130 solar hot water systems, which will result in somewhere around 7,000 gallons of oil, propane, and/or natural gas savings annually for our customers.
  • Cumulatively, ReVision has installed over 6MW of solar electric production in the region, an amount that could triple in the next few years as more institutional-scale projects become economically feasible.

CALL TO ACTION: Vitelli Bill Sets a Solar Vision for Maine

As 2014 begins, the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) has made a strong commitment to pushing forward solar-friendly policy in the state, starting with support of LD 1652, An Act to Support Solar Energy Development in Maine (Link: Text of bill).

This bill will have a public hearing next Tuesday, January 21 at 1:00 p.m. at the Cross Building (right behind the State House), Room 211, in Augusta.

This bill would:

  • Establish that the growth of the solar industry is in the public’s interest in Maine.
  • Call on state agencies to be supportive of solar energy development.
  • Set goals for PV development in the state (40MW by 2016, and 200MW by 2020).
  • Require the PUC to study the effect of solar on the grid and determine a value of solar production.

If you can’t make it to Augusta, send along a note to your legislator by NRCM’s action alert here:

Support solar in Maine
Support Solar in Maine

Falling Behind

global pv growth 2013 to 2015

Solar electricity is predicted to double installed capacity over the next 2.5 years (source: Green Tech Media)

Maine and New Hampshire lag behind neighbors Massachusetts and Vermont in our adoption of solar energy. This has nothing to do with our states’s solar resource – indeed, we have a full 33% more sun annually than Germany, the world leader in solar – it has to do with policy framework which has been less renewable-friendly and less ambitious in scope.

Massachusetts is currently #6 in the nation in solar installations, a result of the state making an ambitious ‘carve out’ with solar energy production goals and a carbon-trading system that provides an economic benefit for homeowners who install solar above from the benefit of net-metering with the power grid. Almost 300 solar companies exist in Massachusetts, employing over 8,400 people, and bringing more money into the state each year than the New England Patriots (Source: SEIA).

In Vermont, a study completely in January of last year found “a 4-kW PV fixed system provides a 4.3-cent net societal benefit per kWh generated, and a 4-kW 2-axis PV system provides a net 3.3-cent benefit” (Source: Renewable Energy World).

The societal benefit is due to avoided energy costs, including loss due to transmission, generation, and distribution that is incumbent in traditional sources of grid power. Solar also coincides with peak periods of grid demand (e.g. hot summer days) and so provides the grid power when it needs it the most. Vermont has one of the nation’s most progressive policies for group solar projects, so a huge driver of their industry is the build-out of cooperatively owned large-scale solar farms.

Maine and New Hampshire are two of the most oil-dependent states in the nation, yet have access to ample renewable energy resources to curb our addiction, saving money and protecting the environment at the same time. We look forward to sharing with you the stories of more businesses, institutions, homeowners, and municipalities who are seeing the promise of renewable energy and putting technology to work to transition ourselves onto a clean and abundant solar energy.