The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates in its latest publication, “U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review 2008”, that the solar thermal market in the United States has grown by 50 % last year, to almost 229,000 m2 (160 MWth). The state with the biggest share of the market is still Hawaii. The number of solar water heaters that the three public utility companies Heco, Helco and Meco rebated even grew by 55 %, to 8,207 systems in 2008 (2007: 5,295 systems). Altogether the number of solar thermal systems installed in the USA add up to 25,000 to 30,000 systems, of which approximately 12 % are combined systems for hot water and space heating.
A steep growth in recent years: The number of solar water heaters rebated by the three Hawaiian public electricity utilities Heco, Helco and Meco grew significantly ever since buyers have been able to combine the federal tax credits (30 %) with tax credits by the state (35 %).
In its report, SEIA underlines two other achievements for the solar thermal sector that were realised within the last month:
- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its new programme for highly-efficient residential water heaters, which includes solar water heaters (SWH), too. SWH qualified for the Energy Star have been available since 1st January, 2009. Energy Star is a voluntary labelling and recognition programme sponsored by DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeking to accelerate the adoption of clean and efficient domestic energy technologies.
- The U.S. energy ministry DOE decided to make the Solar Heating and Cooling Programme part of its Buildings Technologies Programme. DOE for example set a goal of designing a zero-energy house by 2020. Commercial net-zero energy buildings should be available by 2025. Net-zero energy buildings generate as much energy as they consume through efficiency technologies and on-site power generation.
Download the “US Solar Industry Year in Review 2008”: www.seia.org/galleries/pdf/2008_Year_in_Review-small.pdf