The Sun Belt offers great possibilities for solar power development. And in many states of the deep South, residential customers stand to gain massively from increased access to affordable renewable energy. The Southeast is home to much of the nation’s worst sustained poverty. Its low-income consumers have some of the highest energy burdens in the country, according to American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “Energy burden” is defined as the percentage of household income that goes toward energy costs. Many states in the region maintain detrimental policy frameworks. Innovation is needed across the board to ensure solar power’s benefits are accessible to all customers.
On social media and at industry conventions, it is easy to find high-profile discussions on the technological revolution of electric grids. Experts on energy storage, distributed generation, and wireless options describe how emerging technologies are poised to transform the electricity sector. The hype is real. Energy companies are developing technologies at an increasingly rapid pace. But for all the attention on these new devices and expectations of market growth, there’s still no clear path to widespread adoption. As this series shows, several key barriers prevent technology adoption from keeping up with technology development.
During the solar policy debates that have happened in the United States over the past several years, many conversations about what low-income utility customers want have taken place without the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) being in the room. But now that the organization has published its 2017 report “Just Energy Policies: Model Energy Policies Guide,” it’s clear that the views of its constituents have been misrepresented in these meetings.
Community-shared solar is a growing industry in the United States that offers homeowners a solar alternative to rooftop solar. Experts from financial institutions, development companies, and electric cooperatives converged at Solar Power International (SPI) in Las Vegas on Sept. 10-13 to discuss the recent growth and future prospects of community-shared solar.
The residential solar market has heated up in the United States during the past few years. Although its fortunes have fluctuated, it has seen dramatic improvements. The same cannot be said for the low-income solar market, which is just beginning to thaw. According to the Low-Income Solar Policy Guide developed by the nonprofits Grid Alternatives, Center for Social Inclusion, and Vote Solar, there is a key set of structures that needs to be put in place at the government level to set the ground rules for a profitable market. The frameworks depend on the state policy environment.
At this month’s Solar Power International conference in Las Vegas on Sept. 10-13, one topic dominated the general sessions and education panels: the Section 201 trade case brought by Suniva, a bankrupt United States manufacturer, to the United States International Trade Commission (ITC).
Although clean energy may not take center stage as the star employment generator in the Great Recession recovery, it plays an important supporting role, according to Jim Barrett, chief economist at American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. This goes above and beyond the economic benefits of climate protection reported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Adoption of solar power and microgrid technologies has been on the rise in frontier and growth markets. This trend results from declining equipment costs and increasing support from development funds, government programs, and impact investors. But there is much room to fill. There are as many as 1.1 billion people around the globe who still don’t have access to a reliable supply of electricity. Microgrids can help address the issue without expensive transmission and distribution infrastructure.
A number of senators and representatives led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) have cosponsored The Green Bank Act of 2017 (PDF) (S. 1406. H.R. 2995). The act is expected to support the establishment of a national green bank capitalized with $10 billion in treasury-issued green bonds. This is the third time legislators have proposed it.
How can solar financing be improved in the United States? Experts shared their vision for the future at the Green Investing Conference held by the Information Management Network (IMN) on April 27 in New York City. Attendees included energy investors, rating agencies, legal counsel, and other professionals. The opening panel, “The Green Landscape for Investing: What, When, Where and Why?” addressed both current situations and future goals.