Is there anything keeping solar thermal from taking over the solar industry? Is it “the next big thing”?
What is being done to push the market forward?
Gunn says the market is already seeing growth this year.
We [SunMaxx Solar] have seen movement and progress on a number of commercial projects, as well as dealer activity in residential projects.” Mandates in sustainability, rising energy costs, and political stability, are playing an important role in this industry’s growth.
But it is obvious federal and state governments are committed in taking the industry to the next level. The federal government offers a 30% tax credit and many states offer tax credits as well which can be coupled with the federal. According to Gunn, Californians are receiving the most payback this year, thanks to the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Rebate Program. The state has set aside $350 million in rebates; offering residents up to $1,834 to displace their existing electric or propane systems, and commercial/government projects a max of $500,000. There are also natural gas incentives up to $2,719 for residents, and $250,000 to commercial/government projects.
Considering the federal tax credit, Gunn mentions it is important for the industry “…to look at more cost-effective collectors [rather than] more efficient collectors at this point.” It’s simple economics: the rebate programs attract consumers to purchase the products. A high the demand for the products will drive down the cost. SunMaxx solar is already offering customers lower prices if they buy in bulk, and combination kits that are more affordable than if a consumer itemized each component separately.
Military and larger commercial applications, as well as redevelopment programs for multi-dwelling buildings where federal and state governments are involved,” are segments Gunn sites as especially promising in the future of solar thermal hot water applications.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.