Solar, Utility Scale

Tax Credit Extension Keeps Solar Shining

The recent extension of the State of Hawaii’s 35 percent income tax credit for solar energy until January 1, 2008, promises to keep the solar industry busy for the foreseeable future.

Honolulu, Hawaii – July 21, 2003 [] “Solar water heating is an investment which benefits our entire economy,” said Theodore E. Liu, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. “Economic analyses for residential solar water heaters show that US$1.82 in tax revenue is generated for every US$1 that the State invests through tax credits. Our return on investment is very good.” Hawaii is the nation’s per-capita leader in solar water heating installations with 85,000 systems, each of which saves an estimated 4.6 barrels of imported oil, according to the department. Hawaii is also the state that is most dependent on petroleum, with 90 percent of its primary energy derived from oil-all of which must be imported. Among the notable recent large-scale solar water heating projects on Oahu are the Hoolimalima affordable housing subdivision and the Helemano Military Reservation, where solar was installed on 650 homes. A Renewable Energy Award was presented by the U.S. Army to the 25th Infantry Division (Light) Hawaii for the Helemano project. Hawaii residents continue to be highly satisfied with their solar water heaters and with the solar industry, according to a survey of 80 homeowners on the island of Hawaii. Although saving money is a major motivator for most homeowners, many also indicate a strong desire to help the environment by using renewable energy, said the department. The use of photovoltaics (PV) continues to expand on the sunny Kona coast of the “Big Island” of Hawaii. The Big Island is already the state’s leader in the use of residential PV, due to extensive rural areas, which are not served by the local electric utility and have high electricity costs. The high level of interest is evidenced by the fact that a three-day workshop on “Designing and Installing PV for Code Compliance” on the island of Hawaii and a half-day workshop on “Installing and Inspecting PV systems” on the island of Oahu attracted 31 and 56 participants, respectively. The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows has retained its status as the leading user of PV in Hawaii’s resort industry by adding a 250 kW solar tracking system to its existing PV arrays. The installation, covering three acres, pumps water for two 18-hole golf courses. Mauna Lani also added its second component of 60 solar-powered golf carts. The resort’s total solar power capacity is now about 440 kW.