Over the last week a number of new reports came out comparing cost differences in the U.S. solar market and Germany’s, and also showing the somewhat unexpected growth of solar in the U.K. Another report was issued, as the Texas legislature begins to look at legislation, showing the sprawling state’s largest solar markets efforts to spur more. To install more solar and clean energy in Boulder, Col., the city council there is moving forward with plans to create its own utility, abandoning its long-running contract with Xcel Energy. And Massachusetts is looking to increase the amount of solar throughout the state by increasing its goals. Meanwhile Real Goods Solar announced a sweepstakes for an electric vehicle—and the solar array to charge it.
First off, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) recently revisited a study conducted in 2012 about the cost differences between solar installations in the U.S., vs. installations in Germany—the world’s consistently leading solar market. The report found that installing solar in Germany cost roughly $3.42 per installed watt at the end of 2011, while in the U.S. it cost roughly $6.21 per installed watt at the same time. The main difference in cost were found in the various soft-costs of solar.
In something of surprise, the U.K. solar market reached 2 gigawatts in 2012, according to forthcoming information from the NPD Solarbuzz’ Marketbuzz 2013 report. That makes the U.K. one of the top 10 countries for photovoltaics in the world. The market has rebounded since more effective rules and incentives were put in place in late 2011.
Boulder, Col.‘s residents want more solar and wind and less coal-powered electricity. That’s just one of the reasons why the city decided not to renew their utility contract with Xcel Energy in November 2011. The city has pursued creating a municipal utility powered by solar and other clean energy sources. Last week the city found that it can save money over its contract with Xcel, under a variety of scenarios. The city is holding a meeting Feb. 26 to discuss the options further, ahead of a final decision in April.
Massachusetts has done well in reaching its goal for installing 400 megawatts of solar, And that’s a problem because after that there’s no surety as to what happens next. The government anticipates that the state could reach that goal within the next 12 to 18 months, slowing the pace of adoption and putting solar industry jobs at stake. To avoid that Gov. Duval Patrick’s (D) Administration is ramping up efforts to speed the adoption of solar energy by expanding the goal.
With hundreds of thousands of acres of open rangeland and lots of sun, Texas is an ideal location for solar. But so far only two cities, Austin and San Antonio have capitalized on the opportunity. That’s according to a new Environment Texas Research and Policy Center report finding that the two cities alone account for fully 85 percent of solar in the large state. The report found that with 52.6 installed megawatts San Antonio was the biggest market in the state for solar, while Austin, with 41.3 megawatts, was the second largest market for solar. The report came out as the Texas Legislature is set to start debating legislation for 2013 and beyond.
Yes, a new sweepstakes involving two of Clean Energy Authority’s favorites, solar and EVs, was announced last week. Real Goods Solar's new sweepstakes is open to homeowners in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont, with the grand prize of an Electric Smart Car this year, and a 1.5-kilowatt photovoltaic array to charge it. Under the sweepstakes, the winning homeowner will get the vehicle with a free, three-year lease.