The California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) named Ed Murray, a solar expert with more than 30 years of experience in the field, its new president in early January 2017. He succeeded Rick Reed, Director of California-based collector manufacturer Sunearth. Murray, a 25-year member of CALSEIA, is President of Aztec Solar, a solar heating and solar electricity system supplier from Sacramento, California. “He’s the right person to lead CALSEIA in the uncertain times ahead,” reads the press release sent the day after the election. “I attend meetings in the states and in Washington DC to make sure that SHC is kept on the agenda and not completely overshadowed by solar PV,” Murray describes his commitment to solar thermal. The photo shows Murray (right) and Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the California State Assembly.
Against all odds, the solar heating tax credits in the USA were extended again by 5 years. On 18 December 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed, including an extension of the so-called federal Investment Tax Credits up to 2021. Originally, the tax incentives were expected to end on 31 December 2016 after an eleven-year period since 2005, with one previous extension in 2008. They allow both residential and commercial investors of solar PV and solar thermal systems to deduct 30 % of the investment costs at the next tax declaration.
If there were an award for the most transparent support programme in the field of solar heating and cooling, then the California Solar Initiative (CSI) – Thermal Program would get the prize. The CSI-T programme offers a regularly updated and publicly available Excel file of all submitted, approved and paid applications, and this file also includes an amazing amount of additional information, such as collector size, system supplier, contractor for the installation, total project costs or the application itself. The chart above, provided by Lewis Bichkoff, Lead Analyst of the CSI Thermal Program at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), shows the subsidised and installed collector area per year. The annual volume shows significant growth from 953 m² (10,247 ft²) installed and granted during the first year to 36,641 m² (394,401 ft²) in 2014. In 2014, there was a noticeable dominance of pool heating systems, which made up 71 % of the total subsidised collector area.
Demand for the California Solar Initiative (CSI) – Thermal Program is still below expectations. The second quarter of 2012 saw a mere 61 residential applications, as well as 40 applications for multi-family and commercial buildings submitted (see the attached report). Only the new section “multi-family houses for low-income families”, which was launched in March this year, had a good start and has already resulted in 67 applications in the second quarter of 2012. This is because the incentive level has been set to 150 % of the general programme’s incentive level.
Just two years after the first solar water heaters received the Energy Star Label, they may loose it again. Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is revising the label's Water Heater Specification. It has found that solar water heaters are not in line with the principle of the Energy Star label, because they do not pay off quickly enough. The solar thermal industry worries that loosing the label would become a serious drawback for the reputation of solar water heaters in the US. The final draft of the specification is expected in January and the final version is going to be published by February. Source: EPA
The Intersolar North America held in San Francisco in the middle of July was at the right time and place for analysing the first experiences with the new incentive programme in California called California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Programme. Photo: Bärbel Epp