California and American West Top 2012 State Clean Energy Index

California is the top clean energy state in the United States for the third consecutive year, and the American West region continues to lead the national clean tech economy, according to a new ranking from industry analysts Clean Edge.

The 2012 State Clean Energy Index, the third-annual such analysis, aggregates various industry data into one scoring system. Overall scores are awarded on a 100-point scale based on three categories – installed technology (clean electricity, clean transportation, energy intelligence & green building), policy outlook (regulations & mandates, incentives), and invested capital (financial, human & intellectual).

#1 — California

California dominated the rankings with a 91.1 score, more than 10 points higher than the second-ranked state, even though it lost 4.2 points from 2011. The Golden State “has established itself as the world’s preeminent testing ground for clean technology of all kinds,” and led the country in nearly all aspects of market expansion, including new wind and solar, hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), and green building.

However, the state’s most notable achievement comes in attracting venture capital. California-based clean energy startups saw $9 billion in investment over the past three years, more than the combined total of all 49 other states.

#2 — Oregon

Oregon held onto its second-place rank, gaining 0.5 points for a 79.9 score. Clean Edge credits the state’s success to consumer-driven demand for clean tech products and services, the highest national participation rates for voluntary green pricing programs, the largest concentration of LEED-certified buildings, and one of the highest rates of hybrid-electric vehicles per-capita.

#3 — Massachusetts

Massachusetts jumped 4.3 points to retain its third-place rank with a score of 76.1. Clean Edge attributes the state’s strength to an existing base of energy efficiency measures, a $500-million infusion of venture capital investment in 2011, and the Boston metro region’s network of universities. The index considers this concentration of education and startups second only to Silicon Valley.

#4 — Washington State

Washington State, buoyed by a 9-point increase, jumped from sixth overall in 2010 to the fourth-ranked state in 2011 with a score of 69.0. This ranking was due to newly added wind capacity and strong hydropower output, which helped to generate more than 84 percent of all in-state electricity from low-carbon sources (up from 72 percent in 2010). In addition, the state’s focus on building out an EV charging network could make it an industry epicenter moving forward.

#5 — Colorado

Rounding out the top five was Colorado, which maintained the fifth-overall rank from 2010 with a five-point score increase to 65.1. Clean tech infrastructure continues to grow in the state, especially in green building, wind power, and solar photovoltaics. Interestingly, Colorado also checks in as the third most attractive destination for venture capital investment, thanks largely to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

National trends

Clean Edge also noted four impressive national trends:

  • Six states now generate more than 10 percent of their utility-scale electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal – twice as many as 2010.
  • Nearly two million hybrid cars are now registered in the U.S., and nearly 50,000 all-electric vehicles now ride our roads.
  • The 29 states with renewable portfolio standards (along with Washington, D.C.) now represent nearly two-thirds of the total national generating capacity.
  • Clean energy patents granted to U.S. entities exceeded the 1,000 mark for the first time in history.

Remainder of top ten

The index also highlights interesting factors that helped determine the rank of the rest of the top-ten states:

  • New York State (64.9) ranked sixth, generating more GDP dollars per kilowatt-hours consumed as a result of extensive energy efficiency measures, and the upstate region is a growing hotbed of clean energy R&D.
  • Illinois (59.8) ranked seventh, reflecting rural areas of the state’s focus on agriculture and biofuels development as well as Chicago’s leadership in green building and energy efficiency.
  • New Mexico (58.1) ranked eighth, due largely to the state’s growing importance to the solar industry and importance as a key market for PV deployment and technology development.
  • Vermont (56.5) ranked ninth on the strength of an environmentally minded population, high percentage of hybrid-EV deployment, and energy efficiency measures.
  • Minnesota (54.6) ranked tenth as a notable national leader in wind energy and biofuels. The state was one of only five in 2011 to generate 10 percent of its power needs from wind, and is among the highest national ethanol producers.

Even though national support for clean energy technology may be uncertain, state-level support remains strong and the green economy continues to grow. “The state-level scene shows a diversity that crosses political boundaries and regions,” said Ron Pernick, Clean Edge managing director. “The next decade will determine which nations, states, and cites lead in clean tech.”

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1d4mi)

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4th Straight Record Year for US Solar Installations as Utilities Play a Bigger Part

Photo courtesy: SEPA

Solar power was the fastest growing source of electricity for US utilities in 2011 as power providers interconnected more than 62,500 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems last year, setting a record high for the fourth consecutive year. 2011′s results show a 38% increase in the number of solar PV installations utilities participated in and a 120% increase in the total megawatts installed, according to the Solar Electric Power Association’s “2011 SEPA Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings” report.

 

Thirteen electric utilities interconnected more than 1,000 solar PV systems and 22 interconnected more than 500. Unsurprisingly, California utilities were well represented in SEPA’s 2011 Top 10: PG&E topped SEPA’s rankings in terms of annual solar megawatts installed (MW-ac) with 287.7, SCE ranked fourth at 138.5 MW-ac and Sacramento Municipal Utility District ranked seventh, having installed 52.8 MW of solar PV. Perhaps more surprisingly, New Jersey utilities were very well represented: PSE&G (#2, 181.3 MW-ac), Atlantic City Electric (#5, 61.2 MW-ac) and JCP&L (#6, 53 MW-ac) made SEPA’s 2011 Top 10.

SEPA’s US map of Top 10 Utilities installing grid-connected solar PV systems in 2011 also clearly shows how much more potential there is for solar energy adoption across the US. Utilities in just eight states cracked SEPA’s 2011 Top 10 either in terms of total capacity or Watts/customer: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Tennessee.

US Solar PV: 4 Straight Record Years

California and New Jersey utilities’ progress and success in installing solar PV systems offers somewhat contrasting perspectives as to how government policies can spur solar PV growth and adoption, particularly in terms of centralized vs. distributed solar PV systems installations.

Moreover, SEPA’s 2011 Top 10 looks very different from the perspective of “Annual Solar Watts per Customer” (Watts-ac). New Jersey’s Vineland Municipal Electric Utility topped the rankings, having installed an average 768.5 Watts-ac per customer, more than triple the amount of #2-ranked Blue Ridge Mt Electric Membership Corp of Georgia, with an average of 192.4 Watts-ac. Tennessee’s Fayetville Public Utilities ranked third with an average 147.6 Watts-ac.

The US solar PV base continues to grow despite financial and economic headwinds and the expiry of the Treasury 1603 grant program. It took a minimum 45 MW of solar PV installations to crack SEPA’s 2011 Top 10 as compared to 2010′s 20 MW. This was also reflected in terms of installed solar capacity per customer. It took 83 W/c to make SEPA’s Top 10 in 2011 as compared to 28 W/c in 2010.

Five utilities made SEPA’s 2011 Top 10 in terms of both total solar PV capacity installed and average Watts installed per customer: Arizona Public Services (144.4 MW-ac; 128.7 W/c); Xcel Energy NM (45.6 MW-ac; 115.5 W/c); Atlantic City Electric Co (NJ) (61.2 MW-ac; 114.5 W/c); Sacramento Municipal Utility District (52.8 MW-ac; 88.5 W/c); and Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (NJ) (181.3 MW-ac; 85.7 W/c).

Grid-Connected US Solar Installations: Utilities Pick Up the Pace

Taking a look at centralized vs. distributed solar PV installations, a tend toward utility-led solar PV initiatives was in evidence in 2011, SEPA noted. Customer-owned, net-metered systems dominated grid-integrated solar PV installations a few years ago. In 2011, there was “a marked shift toward the utility-side of the meter as utilities influence solar markets in new ways,” according to SEPA.

That’s not to say that residential solar PV installations don’t continue to grow. By number, residential solar PV installations accounted for more than 89% of 2011′s total. Commercial rooftop installations made up more than 53% of total solar PV capacity installed.

Utilities procured 39% of new solar PV capacity in 2011 as compared to just 9% in 2008, SEPA pointed out. SEPA defines this sector as made up of direct wholesale purchases and utility-owned projects, which last year made up 26% and 13% of the US solar PV market, respectively. Large-scale utility projects accounted for most of 2011′s added capacity, with an estimated 18 projects totaling 332 MW, up from 226 MW in 2010. SEPA estimates that the utility solar PV market segment could grow to 1500 MW in 2012, adding the equivalent of the entire market as of year-end 2011.

Here’s SEPA’s two 2011 Top 10 lists:

2011 Top 10 Rankings
Annual Solar Megawatts (MW-ac)
‘11 ‘10

1 1 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (CA) 287.7
2 3 Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (NJ) 181.3
3 7 Arizona Public Service (APS) (AZ) 144.4
4 4 Southern California Edison (CA) 138.5
5 12 Atlantic City Electric (NJ) 61.2
6 9 Jersey Central Power & Light (NJ) 53.0
7 15 Sacramento Municipal Utility District (CA) 52.8
8 5 Xcel Energy – CO (CO) 51.3
9 20 Long Island Power Authority (NY) 46.9
10 56 Xcel Energy (NM) 45.6

Annual Solar Watts-per-Customer (Watts-ac)
‘11 ‘10

1 NR Vineland Municipal Electric Utility (NJ) 768.5
2 162 Blue Ridge Mt Electric Membership Corp (GA) 192.4
3 89 Fayetteville Public Utilities (TN) 147.6
4 11 Arizona Public Service (APS) (AZ) 128.7
5 84 Xcel Energy – NM (NM) 115.5
6 9 Atlantic City Electric Co. (NJ) 114.5
7 15 Maui Electric Company (HI) 100.2
8 22 Sacramento Municipal Utility District (CA) 88.5
9 2 Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (NJ) 85.7
10 3 Hawaiian Electric Co., Inc. (HI) 82.9

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Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1b6ro)

Germany — 7.5 GW of New Solar Power in 2011 (Confirmed)

Earlier this year reports were released that 3 GW of new solar power were installed in Germany during the month of December alone. This marked a new record for solar capacity installed in a single month in Germany and doubts were cast on the accuracy of the news. Many craftsmen and companies of the solar industry voiced their skepticism since they didn’t notice the kind of increased activity that would have been required to accomplish such a record.

To put the 3,000 MW in December into context, the entire solar industry of the US installed a total of 1,855 MW of new capacity in the entire year of 2011.

Now, weeks of speculation have come to an end as the German Federal Network Agency has confirmed its earlier assessment by releasing its final report on new solar installations during the 4th quarter of 2011.

According to the report, solar capacity did actually increase by 2,983 MW in December alone. This report also confirmed an annual solar power capacity increase of 7,482 MW in Germany.

What kind of PV-Systems make up 7.5 GW in Germany

Besides confirming the numbers of the estimates, the report also shed some light on the record months of December. As the reports shows, all kinds of solar projects were significantly up compared to previous months. The installed capacity increased across the board, from small rooftop solar with 3-kW installations, to huge multi-MW solar farms.

Solar power plants greater than 1 MW increased even more so compared to 2010. The market segment for these relatively “huge” solar power projects had a very significant spike in December…. While other segments were up by 200-400% compared to the average value of the previous 11 months, projects 1 MW or larger were up 12x! That pushed about 70% of the installed capacity of that market segment in 2011 into the month of December. I think that showcased quite a strategic move on the part of project developers — low installations during the first half of 2011 to keep cuts to the FiT in July rather low, and then connecting as many projects as possible in December. That’s my thought on it, at least.

What does this new record mean for the solar industry in Germany?

That’s difficult to tell at this moment. The success of the industry and the spread of individual energy autonomy has lead to a serious blowback from the fossil & nuclear lobby and their political allies within the current conservative government. This has been building up since October 2011 and followed the usual playbook of anti-renewable agitation. How hard the industry and the technology will be hit in the coming months is still uncertain. But one thing is certain:
December 2011 proved, once again, that decentralized renewables energy systems can be installed faster than most people are told to believe.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/18err)