New York Offers 50% Solar Subsidy, as East Coast Pulls Ahead in PV Growth

Sep 18, 2009

This week, the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the country's largest state-owned utility, unveiled a China-like solar incentive for its customers: a 50 percent subsidy for new solar power projects.

The Solar Incentive Program will unleash $2 million in new funding to support up to 80 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems as large as 10 kilowatts for homes and businesses. The agency will begin reviewing applications this year.

The initiative should help New York State rise up as a solar powerhouse, predicts NYPA, and advance efforts to meet the state's goal of getting 45 percent of its electricity needs from clean energy and efficiency by 2015.

The news comes hot on the heels of the state Senate's passage of the Green Job/Green New York Act, which is expected to set in motion a $5 billion energy efficiency push and create 16,000 green jobs.

It also comes days after a new report revealed that East Coast states, not California, are leading the way forward in solar energy adoption, with New York one of the rising stars.

The Global Solar Center conducted a 50-state survey of solar subsidies. New Jersey has the most generous incentives in the nation, the report revealed, driving adoption at faster rates per capita than California.

The hottest new market for solar electricity is Pennsylvania, with incentives covering 60 percent of the installation costs. New York has been making inroads for some time. Residents there, along with those in Delaware, are already making all their money back from home solar installations in three years.

The study suggests this is just the beginning: Market demand for solar power has grown an average of 30 percent per year for the last five years in the U.S. And newly consistent federal and state subsidies are expected to boost these numbers, sparking further increases in scale, and creating cheap solar and thousands of jobs. PV installations are said to generate more employment per dollar invested than any other clean energy source. The UN puts the figure at 7 to 11 new jobs for every megawatt-peak installed.

Don't count California out, though. While the East Coast is starting to shine on solar subsidies and adoption, California will likely be the state to watch in the years to come. It may lag in incentives today, but it still leads in installations, and its market is expected to explode in the long term. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger just signed an executive order requiring the state to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2020.

As John Bourne, a solar specialist with the Global Solar Center, told SolveClimate,

"The order certainly will change the state of solar incentives in California."

Notably, the demand side, while vital, is only part of America's developing solar story. According to a new report by GTM research, solar panel manufacturing is beginning to trickle into the states.

The firm found that America's share of global solar manufacturing capacity will increase 180 percent in four years, from a piddly 5 percent in 2008 to 14 percent in 2012.
Eighteen states will have some form of manufacturing presence in PV by 2012, the report found. Ten of those states are predicted to have production of over 100 MW by 2012, compared to only three in 2009.

Oregon was named the No. 1 place to build solar manufacturing facilities in the U.S. New York was ranked among the top 10, along with California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

The report is a counterpoint to claims that America's solar industry will be entirely outsourced to China and other low-cost locations in Asia. In fact, Chinese solar giants Trina and Suntech Power have announced plans to have their products made in America, both declaring their intention to launch new U.S. panel factories in a bid to expand their presence in the lucrative market.

 

See also:

GOP Lawmaker a Hero in Passage of $5B Green Building and Jobs Bill

Knocked Down But Not Out: America Could Be Global Solar Leader by 2014

Chinese Solar Company Plans U.S. Manufacturing Plant

China's Trina Solar Bets on America's Thriving Photovoltaics Market

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