A new Pew Report and white paper looks at how North Carolina has become a solar leader in the Southeastern U.S. The report from the research company found that the state’s policies and institutions were the primary reason for surging growth in solar and clean tech industries in the state.
“The state has climbed nationwide rankings in the solar industry and attracted companies working in smart grid technologies, which use digital communications to allow electricity providers to detect and react to changes in usage,” Pew said. Last year the state was the third largest state in terms of newly added solar generation capacity— it added 335 megawatts, and third in the amount of private investment in solar in the state, reaping $1.2 billion from investors, including companies like Apple.
Among other policies that helped the state become a leader was the 2007 passage of the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard. Pew observed that it was the first state in the Southeast to do so.
More importantly the state has stuck by the standard. “Legislation to roll back the requirements failed in 2013 because state lawmakers were concerned about losing the economic benefits of these emerging industries,” the report stated. “The state also offers owners of renewable energy projects a 35 percent investment tax credit and other financing opportunities, complementing federal tax incentives. These have spurred distributed energy projects—the generation of power on-site at homes or businesses.”
Sticking to the policy has cost the state $135.2 million from 2007 to 2013. But the return on the investment is pretty astonishing. “North Carolina reaped revenue from clean energy projects of $2.67 billion from 2007 to 2013, a figure nearly 20 times greater than the state incentives,” Pew wrote. It also noted that another report anticipated that state will generate $8.1 billion more over the next decade.
The report observed that hydropower remains the state’s dominant form of renewable energy but solar power represented 98 percent of the new capacity added in 2013. “It is likely to continue dominating future installations,” the report stated.Tweet