North Carolina’s growing clean energy industry reached a new milestone this week with the NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA), a leading 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to shaping the state’s clean and efficient energy future, reporting installed solar capacity officially exceeds 1 GW. The state, whose solar industry accounts for more than $1.6 billion in revenue, follows California, Arizona, New Jersey as the fourth in the nation to reach the threshold, and is number one in the Southeast.
“Solar has been a fantastic economic driver in North Carolina’s clean energy industry for the past several years, and reaching one gigawatt is the latest impressive milestone for this growing market,” said Robin Aldina, NCSEA’s Manager of Energy Research.
Strong energy policies, including the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), and the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (REITC), are largely credited for the vast growth of North Carolina’s solar market in the past decade. The result of this growth is taking shape in the form of jobs, local economic impacts, and long-term reliable energy infrastructure for the state. According to NCSEA’s 2014 Clean Energy Industry Census, North Carolina’s solar industry accounts for over 4,000 full-time equivalent jobs, with 450 clean energy firms reporting solar-related activity in the state.
According to NCSEA, North Carolina has 1.04 GW installed capacity as of September 24. The gigawatt news comes at an interesting time for the state’s policy landscape, with the NC General Assembly recently determining to include a sunset of the REITC provision in next year’s budget. NCSEA will devote a significant amount of time to a dialogue about the current state of the North Carolina solar and other clean energy markets at its upcoming Making Energy Work: Power Forward conference to be held October 6-7 in Raleigh, NC.
“This policy shift is not the first time our clean energy economy has faced challenges,” said Allison Eckley, NCSEA’s communications manager. “However, we know this is a resilient industry. North Carolina clean energy firms have overcome multiple policy threats in an uncertain business climate to achieve tremendous growth in jobs and revenues since 2008.”
“Firms indicate factors such as the quality of research and development collaboration, and the impact of our Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) – which remains intact and on track to reach its goals by 2021 – are key contributors to this growth. We see a bright future for North Carolina’s one-gigawatt solar market, and the host of other clean energy and energy efficiency resources driving our energy economy forward.”
NCSEA will provide exclusive updates on the policy and market implications for North Carolina’s evolving clean energy economy, including solar, at Making Energy Work. Agenda highlights include a first-look at the upcoming 2015 Clean Energy Industry Census results, a policy update featuring NC General Assembly members, and state, regional and national market intelligence insights from Clean Edge.
— Solar Builder magazine