Week in review: Solar rebates in CA running out as solar becomes more mainstream, Honda makes big PV offer for its customers
The past week offered its usual colorful array of solar news, with rebates drying up in the U.S.‘s biggest solar market being hailed as a good thing, to a carmaker that wants to see more of its customers go solar, to a farmers’ market that’s going solar in a rural state to show the impact solar can have there. That against the background of some big new deals and plans for much cheaper PV in the near future were making the news last week.
In the U.S.’s most friendly and biggest solar market, California, solar rebates have largely dried up as a result of thousands of homes and businesses going solar. While you might think that’s a bad thing, the rebates have gone down as the cost of solar has gone down and solar advocates, the Vote Solar Initiative, heralded the news. The organization said the cost of solar has come down to such an extent that solar is now affordable for low- and middle-income homeowners in the Golden State.
Across the nation, in the decidedly more rural state of West Virginia, solar has been much slower to take off. The state has a history of coal-mining but also gets more than enough sun to make solar a viable option. Now the Appalachia Program at The Mountain Institute is aiming to help popularize solar in the state. The institute raised funds, enabling it to donate a 3.2-kilowatt solar array to Morgantown’s new Farmers Market Pavilion. The array will power the market during the weekend, during the week will power electric vehicles through a charging station and serve a demonstration project.
In a move that may help even more Californians—and people in other states—go solar, Honda partnered with SolarCity to create a $65 million fund to help its car owners go solar through SolarCity’s third-party ownership models, which is kind of like leasing a vehicle. Owners of Hondas and Acuras can access the program in the 14 states where SolarCity offers the leases.
Meanwhile another Japanese company, Solar Frontier, said that over the next five years the cost of its copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaics will fall by 50 percent. The company anticipates that the Japanese feed-in tariff will help make it one of the biggest PV companies in the world as well its plans to create an engineering, procurement, and construction business (EPC). Such a business will allow the company to have a project pipeline, much like SunPower and First Solar have done. To achieve this the company has partnered with German company BELETRIC.
In a new partnership with one of the world’s largest energy efficiency companies Cogenra’s unique solar PV thermal devices will be used to chill Johnson Controls’ new high-efficiency chillers. The chillers will use the devices to both power the buildings with the photovoltaics and the thermal energy collected to cool the chillers, providing air conditioning for the buildings where the devices are installed.
North Carolina’s Strata Solar partnered with Canadian Solar to provide it’s Chinese-made photovoltaics for 15 projects. In all it will supply more than 85 megawatts of modules for the projects, which will average a little more than 5.5 megawatts each. Overall the projects show the speed at which solar is starting to take hold in the state. And the agreement comes as Strata looks forward to moving into neighboring states like Georgia and Alabama, where it plans to be operating later this year and then into Tennessee, Mississippi and Florida.