Solar energy continues to expand across the country as more states realize the technology's energy- and money-saving potential. As organizations develop better batteries, more efficient photovoltaic cells and stronger programs and initiatives, states and individuals are opening up to solar power.
With the growth of solar also comes the development of peripheral industries required to install, maintain and upgrade the systems. That means contractors, industrial fasteners distributors and specialized construction teams will likely see a boost in productivity.
Affordable solar to boost Georgia's energy output
Georgia, with its perpetually sunny climate, is the latest state to make a push for solar energy, according to Clean Technica. The traditionally conservative state has resisted a solar shift, as it would interfere with utilities that depend on fossil fuels. With that said, a decline in solar power costs is forcing policy makers to rethink their stance.
State utility Georgia power is awaiting approval for 10 new solar-powered plants that would yield 525 megawatts at the highly-competitive price of 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. That would triple the state's capacity at a price rate that is cheaper than coal-powered electricity and most natural gas-powered electricity. Plus, the additional plants would boost the construction sector and provide opportunities for suppliers of electrical connectors and fasteners.
This last factor is an important one. As energy costs decline, more home and business owners will seize the opportunity to install solar on their roofs. This, in turn, will drive sales for construction supply companies. Solar installation requires specialized electrical connectors, galvanized bolts and other construction goods. When one considers the number of buildings that stand to install solar panels – potentially in the thousands – that means exponentially more business for equipment providers.
Other states could follow suit
Two of the most solar-friendly states in the U.S. are California and Massachusetts. The former makes sense for its notorious sunshine, but the latter is surprising. Massachusetts has robust tax incentives and an infrastructure to support home solar systems, but not the best weather for solar energy. But if Georgia goes through with its proposed initiative, other Southern states could follow suit.
Utility companies in Florida – the Sunshine State, of all places – lobbied against solar energy over the summer, according to the Broward/Palm Beach New Times. The Florida Public Service Commission holds occasional meetings to discuss energy efficiency and solar potential. But at the last meeting on June 10, utilities dismissed the solar representatives.
"All of the sudden, the utilities no longer want the solar industry in the room because they want to proactively make sure that solar isn't part of the energy mix in Florida," Yann Brandt, co-founder of rooftop solar company Demeter Power Group, told the New Times. "They've been pretty open about the only solar they want in the state is large solar farms, not on people's rooftops and their businesses."
However, if Georgia successfully implements its proposed solar changes, Florida policy makers might feel pressured to take a pro-solar stance.
Upgrades enhance solar's viability
An invention at Ohio State University is the world's first solar-battery, according to OSU's News Room. The patent-pending device can generate as well as store its own energy. The hybrid technology could save space and solve the storage problem that some photovoltaic cells face.
"The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy," Yiying Wu, chemistry professor at OSU, told the news source. "We've integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost."
The development could open up solar energy to new storage and cost-saving possibilities and allow even more homes to take advantage of cheap solar power.