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Rooftop, Distributed Solar May Grow to 2 Gigawatts in Northeast US by 2021


Earlier this week the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) released the Northeastern portion of the 6th annual Renewable Energy in the 50 States report. The report focuses on the state of the renewable energy industry across the U.S. and is released in four stages. The most recent release finds that some of fastest growing states for renewable energy are in the U.S. Northeast, led by New York and Pennsylvania. It also anticipated that by the end of 2021 the distributed solar power market (rooftops, small solar farms, commercial buildings, etc.) will grow to 2 gigawatts from 250 megawatts in 2012.

“For several years now the renewable energy sector has been growing at an increasingly impressive rate,” said ACORE’s Research and Program Manager and lead author of the report Lesley Hunter. “This has been especially true in the Northeast. These 11 states—plus the District of Columbia—rank second nationwide in both solar and biomass power capacity and may be on the precipice of a massive offshore wind build-out.” The 11 states covered in the report are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C. 

A solar array in New Hampshire. Courtesy NREL.

The report credited the strong growth of renewables in the Northeast to various policies and incentive programs. Among the policies and incentive programs mentioned were feed-in tariffs, renewable energy credits (RECs), green banks (as in New York’s $1 billion green bank), and rebates.

Another important, overarching policy in the region are renewable energy targets and renewable portfolio standards (RPSs). “Many Northeastern states have set targets for solar energy generation, which, coupled with financial incentives, are largely responsible for driving more solar power capacity in the Northeast than in the Midwest or the Southeast,” the report said. There’s also a cooperative effort, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is helping nine states in the region work toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions and while spurring energy efficiency.

“Various renewable energy technologies may also help to diversify the Northeast’s energy production portfolio beyond conventional energy sources,” Hunter explained. Several states such as New York, Massachusetts, and Maine are major producers of biomass and waste energy, using a number of available feedstocks like municipal solid waste, wood, and landfill gas.

Homeowners in the region also use a lot of wood, Hunter reported. “The availability of wood waste from the local forestry sector allows homes throughout the Northeast to use wood for space heating, water heating, and cooking at nearly twice the national rate, and growth in this sector is expected to steadily continue,” she said.

 


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