Solar Power requires Improvements to the Electrical Grid to Succeed

A fractured grid that was built for coal- and fuel-based energy generation does not meet the decentralized needs of a clean energy economy. Extreme weather conditions that are likely to become more common in the future have caused the electrical grids to fail when most needed to sustain life. Attacks on power substations in Washington, Oregon and North Carolina late last year showed just how vulnerable our electrical grid is. Improving the infrastructure and resolving risks is critical for the future of solar energy in America.

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Investment Tax Credit under the IRA

On January 14, Chantal Stevens attended a briefing on the IRA by Lyle Rawlings, President and CEO of Advance Solar Products, MSSIA Founder.  Here are the highlights of this presentation.

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Training and Clean Energy Career Pathways for Workforce Development

The solar industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, and offers tremendous opportunities for workers from all backgrounds with plenty of job opportunities for individuals who want to join a rapidly growing sector with high demand and a positive environmental impact.

After a slow start at the beginning of 2022, the solar capacity is expected to grow at unprecedented rates, in part due to the benefits offered by the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).   In fact, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie are forecasting that installed and operational solar capacity may increase threefold in five short years, skyrocketing from 129 GW today to 335 GW by 2027. 

In addition, the IRA also offers a major incentive to consider employing apprentices as part of the workforce of large solar project constructions.  Projects over 1 megawatt are eligible to receive the same Investment Tax Credit (ITC) as smaller projects if they comply with apprenticeship requirements.  The IRA uses the term “qualified apprentices” refers to those participating in a “Registered Apprenticeship Program”.

At the Solar Washington’s 2022 Washington State Solar Summit in October, the panel on Workforce Development included Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment Director Jessyn Farrell, Sphere Solar Energy CEO Edwin Wanji, Puget Sound Electrical JATC (Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee) Training Director Ryan Bradt and NW LECET Renewable Energy Representative Aubrey Newton. They provided insights into how to get trained, how to join the industry, apprenticeships, and pathways for individuals to enter the solar industry, and how their programs work.

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Ethical Sourcing, Recycling and the Value Chain in the Solar Panel Industry

A 2016 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency(*) found that, given an average solar panel life span of 30 years, it is likely that millions of metric tons of solar panels will be decommissioned by the early to mid-2030s and may end up in landfill.
That forecast and the pressure to use more responsibly-produced materials for solar panels should incentivize everyone from materials suppliers and manufacturers to installers and utilities to source panels responsibly and seek means to recycle or reuse them. Unfortunately, the tools are not easily available.

Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) Executive Director Aimee Boulanger, FabTech Solar Solutions Director of Business Development Janette Freeman and Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) Supervisor Al Salvi were panelists at the Washington State Solar Summit in October, organized by Solar Washington, and discussed these trends as well as other developments in the solar industry.

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2022 Solar Summit: Ways to Go Solar: Rooftop, Ground Mount and other Solutions

When considering solar power, most people think about solar panels on a roof. While those work well in most circumstances, there are other options.  At the 2022 Washington Solar Summit, Solar Washington Board Member Chris Muench invited Ian Robinson (Northwest Electric and Solar), George Thomas (ClearVue) and Ian Lucas (A&R Solar) to discuss those options and ideas.

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Governor Inslee's Opening Remarks at the 2022 Solar Summit

The October 14 2022 Solar Summit was a resounding success with a good attendance of very engaged participants. In what Governor Inslee called a "solarchat" format, he talked with Solar Washington President Jack Newman.  Here's a summary of Governor Jay Inslee's opening comments.

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Consumers, Companies and Climate all Win with the Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the strongest federal legislation on climate change ever passed by Congress, targets a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses (GHG) below 2005 levels by 2030, far greater than previous measures that would have reduced GHGs by 25 percent. Along with the positive impact on climate change, the Act provides a multitude of benefits for consumers and for businesses.

The result could well be a huge increase in solar power. A new report from Princeton University and Dartmouth University forecasts that solar power generation nationally could increase fivefold by 2025-2026, compared to 2020 levels.  While it remains unclear how much money will reach Washington state and how the federal law will mesh with state programs, huge benefits are expected.

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How to Avoid Solar Power Scams

“Federal and Washington solar programs are making it possible to get solar installed on your home at no cost,” one ad proclaims to Washington residents, and “in an effort to reduce demand on the grid, your utility company will now pay you a credit for going solar.”

If you see a deal like this one, it could well be a scam. While solar power is a great investment that can pay for itself in the longer term and federal and state provide support for solar power for some consumers, solar panel installation is usually not free and utility companies are not providing free solar power.

 

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Washington State Solar Incentive Program

A proposal for a low-income solar energy program was passed by the Legislature and signed into law on March 30, 2022.  House Bill 1814 funds a revised version of Washington’s exhausted solar energy incentive program. In addition to solar for low-income households and service providers, the new program may also fund community solar subscriptions for low-income recipients. 

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Solar Sourcing and Staffing

With concerns over climate change front and center, and energy prices driving consumer and industry desires to shift to renewable energy, solar power is increasingly attractive. Despite concerns about sourcing and staffing, the prospects for increased solar power installation and usage in Washington is positive.

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