Solar heating and cooling technologies saw a mixed year in 2009. Solar water heater (SWH) shipments managed modest growth for the fifth consecutive year with the help of the expanded federal investment tax credit. Solar pool heating (SPH) experienced a third year of decline, mirroring struggles in the housing market. SEIA estimates SWH collector shipments grew 10 percent to 147 MWth and SPH shipments sunk 10 percent to 699 MWth for the year.
SEIA expects continued growth in SWH in 2010. This year, California will launch the most ambitious state SWH incentive program with the goal of installing 200,000 SWH systems. In addition, increased use of SWH to generate renewable energy certificates (RECs) to meet state renewable energy standards could drive additional deployment in some states as we began to see in Arizona last year. This optimism is mirrored by the many new products seeking certification from the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation, the testing body charged with certifying equipment for eligibility to take the federal ITC.
While the real estate market continues to impact the solar pool heating sector, SEIA is working to help commercial pools take advantage of solar energy. Nearly 300,000 non-residential pools at hotels, schools, gyms and physical therapy centers in the U.S. need year-round heating. Heating these pools results in as much as 1 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide pollution each year. Current law prohibits these facilities from taking advantage of the federal ITC.
Solar water heating equipment got a boost this year by becoming eligible to sport the ENERGY STAR label. As of publication of this report, there are already 279 ENERGY STAR-certified solar water heaters. Many solar water heaters will now benefit from the brand recognition and trust that many consumers associate with the program.