As the legislative session for states across the U.S. winds down for 2013, a host of solar and renewable energy bills continue to fight in the waning moments, some like those in Minnesota are largely positive, in other states, not so much. These bills for better or for worse are coming as the solar industry continues to add jobs across the U.S., largely supported by policies like renewable portfolio standards. To support the increasing growth in the U.S, like new large installations at military sites, it makes sense that this will continue, Even more so as solar on the U.S is on the rise as it wanes in Europe. These were among the new that topped the solar lists last week.
Minnesota has been relatively friendly to renewables, but largely it’s been a market for wind. With two bills working their way through the legislature, the state could greatly expand the amount of solar in the state. One bill, HF 956 would require investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy to source 4 percent of their power in Minnesota from solar by 2025. The other, SF 901, was pared back to 1 percent of utilities’ electric generation by 2025. Both bills were designed to compliment The Solar Energy Jobs Act of 2013. They would also require investor-owned utilities to source 40 percent of their energy from renewables by 2030, making it one of the best states for renewables in the country.
Perhaps that’s why Ecotech Institute’s Clean Jobs Index shows that the solar industry added 8,000 new jobs in the first quarter of 2013. Casting a wider net, the report shows that the U.S. added 750,000 clean tech jobs across all clean tech sectors. The biggest clean tech jobs growth was seen in Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Vermont and West Virginia.
Surprisingly most of those states don’t have strong renewable portfolio standards (RPSs). But clean tech encompasses much more than just solar, wind and biomass energy. On the other hand RPSs or renewable energy standards are leading the way to renewable energy growth in most states, according to a new white paper from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The white paper also discusses how economically efficient the RPSs have allowed the 29 states they’re in to add in more clean energy. That’s despite an increasing number of threats to such policies from conservative-backed legislation.
Still solar is growing in the U.S. and the country will be a much larger part of the global market in 2013 and beyond, as interest in solar energy wanes somewhat in major European markets like Germany and Italy. That’s according to a new report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). As the worldwide reach of PV surpassed 100 gigawatts of installed power, it became obvious that Europe will no longer dominate the world market for installations.
With the U.S. Department of Defense starting to add more 3 gigawatts of clean energy over the coming years it’s no wonder that the U.S. will step up in the international ranks of solar installations over the next few years. Last week the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a series of contracts to support renewable energy projects at five sites as part of the military’s aggressive goal to go from purchasing a small percentage of its overall energy use to 25 percent of its energy use by 2025.