As Jimmy Carter said, "what starts in California unfortunately has an inclination to spread." When it comes to solar, this quote should be changed to "fortunately," since California leads the nation in solar deployments of all types. But there is a state — even farther to the west — that is the real leader when it comes to rooftop solar penetration and the challenge these systems present to electric utilities.
In Hawaii, 50 percent of households have either solar PV or solar thermal systems on their rooftops. Simple economics drive this high degree of market penetration: electricity prices are around $0.35/kwh, there is negligible distribution of natural gas for water heating, and imported oil provides 70 percent of the fuel for electricity generation (compared to 1 percent for the rest of the U.S.). Rooftop solar thermal systems are the most economical source of domestic hot water, and rooftop PV is quite cost-effective for electricity. Rooftop PV is so compelling that the utilities in Hawaii are limiting new installations.
Cully Judd is the co-founder of Inter-Island Solar Supply (one of the nation's largest PV distributors) and SunEarth (a leading solar thermal collector manufacturer). He and his associates have been actively involved in the growth of the market in Hawaii, and are working hard to overcome incumbent energy providers' opposition to more renewable power. Please join me on this week's Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as Judd talks about the challenges and opportunities that rooftop solar present at high customer penetration levels.
Watch Meg Cichon chat with Dora Nakafuji, director of renewable energy planning at the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), at PV America 2014 about the recent grid interconnection crisis on the island and how HECO is planning for a renewable future.
About The Energy Show
As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.
The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we'll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.
About Your Host
Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.
His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.
Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies. He's been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.
Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock