Which is more cost effective, better for our health and capable of sustaining the planet?
(Hint: It looks prettier too!)
Here we’ll present the facts, plain and simple. We’ll expose some of the hidden costs for nuclear power, explain the financial incentives for solar as they are today, and we’ll explore where the future appears to be headed.
The Energy Bill that was recently passed by Congress and signed by President Bush contains a $10 billion appropriation for renewable energy which includes solar, wind, bio-mass, geothermal, hydro power and fuel cells.
In the same bill, $25 billion is appropriated for guaranteed loans to corporations to build a nuclear power plant.
Imagine what the solar industry in the U.S. could accomplish with $25 billion now … or even $10 billion. What has been accomplished in the U.S. solar industry up until now?
New Jersey’s Supercharged Solar Future
The NJ solar industry has seen explosive growth over the past five years due to the biggest renewable energy rebate incentive in the United States, the NJ Customer On-Site Renewable Energy (CORE) rebate. Historically, the rebates have amounted to 40-70 percent of the installed cost of the system. Depending on a customer’s ability to take advantage of tax incentives, the payback range is four to nine years. There has been a growth spurt in NJ’s solar industry due to these aggressive rebates, but not without ‘growing pains.’
Currently, the money for the CORE rebate program comes through a tariff charged in statewide utility bills called a ‘societal benefits charge.’ The SBC provides a yearly fixed budget to fund the rebates.
The overwhelming interest in the core rebate has caused a waiting list (queue) to be created, and the waiting time 텍사스홀덤 for rebate approval is currently 12-18 months. Essentially, the growth of the solar industry has led to slowdowns and market uncertainties.
After more than a year of public discussions about how to restructure New Jersey’s solar market, the state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) unanimously approved the transition of the CORE program from an upfront rebate system to a commodity market based on Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). They still plan to keep a rebate in place for residential systems until 2012 which could result in a windfall for these solar customers.
Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), also known as Green Tags, are tradable environmental commodities that represent the ‘clean aspect’ of onemegawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated from renewable energy. These certificates can be sold and traded and the owner of the REC can claim to have purchased renewable energy. RECs put a monetary value on carbon-neutral renewable energy by providing financial incentive for electricity generated from renewable sources. A solar generator is issued one REC for every 1,000 kwh of electricity it produces. The electricity is fed into the electrical grid or used on-site, and the accompanying REC can then be sold on the open market.
In NJ, electricity suppliers are legally required to produce a percentage of renewable energy, buy the SRECs, or pay a Solar Alternative Compliance Payment (SACP). Solar system owners earn SRECs for solar electricity production, which are registered and traded among electricity suppliers and other buyers within an established infrastructure.
There are three ways that have been used to help fund renewable energy worldwide. 1) Rebate – the authorities refund part of the cost of installation; 2) Feed-in tariff – the electricity utility buys PV electricity from system owners at a guaranteed price set well above current prices; 3) Renewable Energy Credits – creating a commodity out of the carbon-neutral aspect of the energy production