Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Jersey: The Little Solar Deutschland of America : Greentech Media

New Jersey: The Little Solar Deutschland of America : Greentech Media

First and foremost, the trend toward distributed generation has helped build a local PV industry. According to the National Solar Jobs Census for 2011, there are over 100,000 solar jobs in the U.S. -- and over 40 percent of those jobs are in installation. Create a locally driven, locally owned industry, and you create local jobs. Not only that, but you generate wealth for the local businesses who own solar installations. For instance, real estate owners that put solar on their buildings can help differentiate themselves in the market, offer tenants more stable and reduced electricity charges and create an additional revenue source. All of this increases local economic viability. It helps the bottom line of the local businesses that operate in New Jersey and increases the value of the real estate assets. This is a tangible but not often discussed virtue of PV.

A market driven by small distributed generation installations can reach a viable scale, and we believe that this approach is more sustainable in the long term. Other markets have succeeded at growing a scalable market in just this fashion. In 2009, the German Solar Energy Industry Association estimated that roughly 80 percent of the total installed capacity was roof-based. Furthermore, they estimated that two-thirds of all the volume installed in Germany consisted of installations under 100 kilowatts. As the solar market in Germany has shown us, commercial and residential PV can create a large market and contribute to a vibrant economy. We hope to encourage a similar market dynamic in New Jersey.

Distributed generation is a stronger option for local business growth and wealth generation than large, distantly owned utility-scale PV farms. Photovoltaic technology is uniquely suited to small- and medium-sized generation installations due to its small footprint and modular nature. We need to evolve the conversation from the cost of PV to the value of PV. New Jersey has the potential to demonstrate the true value of a local distributed PV industry. New Jersey should provide the template for the rest of the country to follow.

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