Four Things to Watch in East Coast Solar
Will Trump’s Solar Tariffs Affect the Industry?
In January 2018 the Trump administration placed a 30% tarrif on solar imports coming into the United States. The 30% tariff will decrease each year by 5% until it’s at 15% in 2021. By June 2018 $2.5 billion in commercial installation projects had been canceled, along with thousands of jobs. Most of these were in the utility grid-tied sector.
Solar installers have been outraged at the short-sightedness of the bifurcated tariffs. The tariffs on steel and aluminum have hurt the US solar industry as well as the agricultural sector who make tractors and other agricultural implements.
However, the sun continues to shine on the solar energy industry. Despite tariffs, the solar sector has so much momentum it continues to grow. While projections dropped by 9% the industry continues to grow albeit more slowly than it would without tariffs.
“It didn't destroy the market,” David Bywater stated, “but it cut volume from the market.”
Solar Energy Growth in New York City
Solar energy is growing by leaps and bounds in New York. Clearway Energy Group was recently awarded a large contract to provide installations for New York’s “Solar for All” program. Clearway is a progressive renewable energy supplier with 500 employees.
The Solar For All initiative is funded by the $1 billion NY-Sun initiative signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Cuomo has shown a commitment to developing renewable energy in the state of New York, making New York one of the fastest growing solar states in the nation.
“Clearway’s Solar for All projects will help provide the Hudson Valley’s most underserved families with access to free community solar, thereby reducing their electricity bills, reducing harmful emissions, and creating a clean, more sustainable energy system for all.” Said Alicia Barton, CEO of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
NYSERDA will be administrating over 7000 residential and small business solar installations. This will include solar community projects for eight towns throughout the state of New York.
Climate Change Affects Renewables As Well As Fossil Fuels
The federal government presented their Climate Report written by thirteen scientists in the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The report links climate threats to many energy sectors. The grid infrastructure is considered perilous and subject to an increased amount of failures.
Grid-tied solar customers are likely to be affected by both natural and terrorist damage to the grid. Increasing wind was also noted to affect the solar industry with the possibility of damaging equipment especially large pole mounted arrays.
According to the Energy Information Administration, solar energy production grew by 44 percent in 2016. In the United States, renewable energy installations are now equal to coal and natural gas industries. Solar accounts for about half of the renewable energy total with 25 percent of total new power plant capacity installations during 2017.
Solar energy is a viable way to mitigate climate change and work toward lessening harmful environmental disruptions. One-third of the greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere is caused by producing electricity using fossil fuels.
Will Virginia Finally Get Some Sun?
Virginia has been at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to solar installations. Currently, Virginia is ranked 39th in the USA for solar capacity per capita and lagging far behind its neighbors North Carolina and Maryland.
The good news is solar is on the rise. Communities in Southwest Virginia, which is the heart of coal country will be getting a big solar boost. The Solar Workgroup just announced major projects happening.
The Solar Work Group is a nonprofit solar advocacy group that is made up of people and business across public and private sectors. They will be administering solar installations at numerous public buildings including:
“Wetlands Estonoa Learning Center, University of Virginia-Wise Oxbow Center in St. Paul, Va., Norton Green Apartments in Norton, Va., the Lonesome Pine Industrial Center in Wise, Va., and two high schools in Wise and Dickenson counties”.
The build to install the solar systems were won by NCI, a Richmond, Virginia based solar installation company. They will team up with Acorn Electrical Specialists in Tennessee and Rockbridge Energy based in Georgia. NCI will be hiring and training local residents in the installation of solar technologies.
In addition, the Solar Energy Industries Association announced that approximately 200,000 more homes in Virginia will receive solar installations over the next year. As installation and costs come down solar is rising all over the nation.
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