Recently, GreenTech Media’s (GTM) Stephen Lacey, asked the question many Mid-Atlantic solar developers are hooked on – can a historic coal state like Virginia create a real solar market?
Currently, GTM has Virginia on a list of “hidden” solar markets that are waiting to explode. As a solar developer who has trekked through the Virginia solar wilderness, we would agree with GTM, but for putting the right policies in place.
In an “Executive Summary on Solar Jobs and Investment in Virginia” we lay out the jobs and investment numbers resulting from the solar industry in Virginia, compared to other states. Virginia pales in comparison.
- Virginia ranks 39th in solar jobs per capita
- Virginia has installed 15 MW of solar total– Maryland has installed 110 MW
- Virginia has around $5m in solar investment – North Carolina saw $307m in 2012 alone.
Why is Virginia so far behind? How does the Commonwealth move from hibernation – to emerging – to leader in the solar market?
Paradoxically, Virginia experience more sun than Maryland, Delaware of New Jersey (states leading in solar development. In fact, Virginia experiences more sunlight the country of Germany, the global leader in installed solar and solar development.
With plenty of sun, it becomes clear that the problem lies within the policy. Neighboring states favor policies that recognize the benefits of solar to the grid, economy and society. States such as Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina promote mandatory renewable portfolio standards, with in state incentives. Both Maryland and North Carolina implement income tax credits to promote investment in solar – while Delaware uses a state rebate program for solar installations. And all three states allow for net-metering capacities up to x4 the limit placed on Virginia residents and commercial owners.
Virginia boasts the demand, the infrastructure and the people to harness the fastest growing industry in the United States. It just needs the policy to light up the Commonwealth, and open the door for businesses to hire, invest and install in Virginia.