Australian news, and some related international items

Solar power growing in USA

In January, Macon’s Felton Homes public housing complex replaced 10 percent of its energy demand with renewable energy, using a combination of solar panels and solar hot water heaters.

Falling prices are making solar energy an economical energy choice for U.S. homeowners and businesses.

U.S. solar installations grow 85 percent in first quarter, 17, 2012  By EHREN GOOSSENS — Bloomberg News Developers installed 85 percent more solar panels in the United States in the first quarter than a year earlier, led by strong growth in
commercial projects and demand, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Total U.S. installations were 506 megawatts in
the quarter and may reach 3,300 megawatts this year, about 11 percent
of the 2012 global market, the Washington-based trade group said last
week in its quarterly market report.That will make the U.S. the
fourth-largest solar market this year, and one of the few countries
where growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future,
according to GTM Research, a Boston consulting company that prepared
the report with SEIA.

Middle Georgia has certainly done its part to be part of this growth.

Damaste Real Estate installed downtown Macon’s first solar panels in
April on top of the parking deck at the corner of Martin Luther King
Jr. Boulevard and Cherry Street. All the lighting for the parking deck
is supplied through solar panels now.
Selling power back to Georgia Power at $.17 kilowatt — a rate higher
than what we buy it for — ensures our return on investment and just
makes business sense,” Damaste’s Stefano Dansese said in a news
release in April after the solar panel installation was completed.
A Warner Robins company in February installed the largest solar array
in Middle Georgia, with panels covering about an acre next to the
Clean Control Corp. plant on Booth Road, where industrial cleaning and
odor-eliminating products are manufactured. The panels began producing
power for the electric grid about four months ago. Clean Control
President Steve Davison said in February that he expects to produce
enough solar energy to power 24 homes.

The 150-kilowatt project is one of the 10 largest in the state.

In January, Macon’s Felton Homes public housing complex replaced 10
percent of its energy demand with renewable energy, using a
combination of solar panels and solar hot water heaters.
That project was made possible by an $8.5 million grant from the
federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that required
extensive “green” features in the renovation of the housing complex.

Falling prices are making solar energy an economical energy choice for U.S. homeowners and businesses.
German company MAGE Solar opened its U.S. headquarters in Dublin in 2010.

Susanne Quinn, a spokeswoman for the company, said growth in the solar
industry in the U.S. factored heavily in the company opening a
headquarters here.

“We’re seeing (growth in solar energy) in all sectors, commercial,
residence, agriculture,” Quinn said Thursday. “The potential of
sunshine in this country is unbelievably, tremendously, incredibly
good. It’s a gold mine. With tax credits and incentives in place, it
makes sense.

“The solar industry provides the potential for job growth … you
can’t ship out solar energy,” said Quinn.

MAGE plans to employ 350 workers at its Dublin plant. “It’s good
American jobs,” Quinn added. “We call it green collar jobs. It’s
growing at a pace that’s outgrowing any industry in the nation. Solar
energy has a job growth rate of 26 percent (year-over year).”

The economics have improved dramatically and companies are realizing
solar energy is a good hedge against rising energy prices, said Rhone
Resch, chief executive officer of SEIA.Nonresidential solar projects,
which include commercial, government and nonprofit companies, totaled
288.8 megawatts, up 77 percent from a year earlier, according to the
report.New Jersey, the top solar state, added 174 megawatts in the
quarter, 34 percent of all U.S. installations, including 122 megawatts
of non-residential projects.California was the second-largest solar
market with 148 megawatts installed. The top global markets this year
will be Germany, Italy and China.Installed prices for all U.S. solar
systems fell 17 percent to $4.44 a watt. Prices for utility plants
dropped 25 percent, residential installed prices fell 7.3 percent, and
nonresidential projects declined 11.5 percent.The price of solar
panels dropped 49 percent in the past year as manufacturers, mainly
based in China, increased production and triggered a global
oversupply.The impact of an import tariff on Chinese solar cells and
the expiration last year of a U.S. Treasury grant program for
renewable energy will be felt most next year, Shayle Kann, vice
president at GTM, said in a statement.“We remain bullish in 2012 on
all market segments,” Kann said. “However, 2013 is an open
question.”Total U.S. solar installations may grow to 10 gigawatts a
year by 2015, Resch said.

June 18, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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