The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) today released its annual report on trends in renewable energy, including state energy incentives and policies, solar installation, net metering and interconnection, and green jobs workforce development and training. The report, “2009 Updates and Trends,” puts these trends in the context of an unprecedented federal commitment to renewable energy, despite the global financial crisis, federal bailouts, and historic and pervasive state budget crises.
IREC – a leader in the advancement of renewable energies since 1982 – released the report at its Annual Meeting in Anaheim.
Highlights of the report include the following:
- IREC highlights Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing authorization as “earning the distinction of being the trendiest state policy development over the last year.” The federal stimulus bill facilitated the creation of PACE programs, which allow local governments to offer low-interest “loans” to property owners to help pay the upfront costs of permanent, renewable energy improvements on the property. The loans are usually repaid via a special assessment on the property. Thirteen states enabled local governments to create PACE programs, which appeal to state legislators because they don’t impact state budgets and they have the ability to spur clean energy job growth at the local level.
- Forty new solar programs were created in 19 states between September 2008 and September 2009, according to IREC. Approximately 16 solar programs in 14 states increased funding. Eight programs in 12 states increased the incentive for individual systems.
- As the U.S. solar market matures, states and utilities have begun shifting away from simple rebate programs for photovotaics (PV) and toward production- or performance-based incentives (PBIs). Over the last year, 15 PBIs were created and the caps or rates for seven PBIs changed.
- As recent national renewable energy discussions have focused on the promise of green jobs boosting our economy, several states are positioning themselves to catch the new jobs wave. Twenty states plus Puerto Rico provide industry recruitment incentives specifically targeting renewable energy manufacturers, this in addition to the federal stimulus bill’s $2.3 billion incentive program for these manufacturers.
- Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia changed or adopted net metering laws/regulations during the last year. Of those, two states established new net-metering policies, raising the national state total to 42. Changes implemented in the other states address increasingly complex policy issues, including the treatment of net excess generation, renewable energy credit ownership, community-owned systems and third-party ownership. “Super-sized” net metering now exists in 20 states (i.e, a 1-MW or greater individual systems capacity limit for at least one customer type).
- Annual U.S. photovoltaics installed capacity grew by 63 percent in 2008, triple the annual amount installed in 2005. More than 30,000 sites installed PV in 2008, with 62 percent of these sites and 86 percent of the installed capacity connected to the grid.
- Residential installations were 27 percent of all new grid-connected PV systems installed in 2008 by capacity. Although the capacity of residential installations grew in 2008, the market share declined compared with each of the previous three years. The major factor in this drop of market share was the strong growth in non-residential installations. The average size of both residential and non-residential grid-connected PV installations has grown steadily in recent years.
- Solar hot water installations have boomed since enhanced federal investment tax credits took effect in 2006. In the continental 48 states, annual installed capacity has quintupled since 2005.
- Approximately $1 billion is available for funding end-use renewable energy products, according to a DSIRE/IREC review of state energy offices’ plans for spending State Energy Program (SEP) funds. Of this amount, more than $200 million is targeted directly for investments in solar and/or solar thermal installations in 13 states and Puerto Rico.
- Additional key trends and updates outlined in the IREC report relate to: progress in interconnection, training and workforce development, including ISPQ (International Standard) accreditation of renewable energy training programs.
The full 2009 IREC Updates and Trends report is available online at: www.irecusa.org.