Sun Shines Brightly On Ohio Solar Energy

We owe a great deal to the Buckeye state.

commercial solarAfter all, it was here that Thomas Alva Edison, the father of the first electric power station was born and lived. It was from this cradle that Charles F. Brush enabled the first electric arc lights into homes and small businesses.

Doesn’t it make sense that a state with such a proud heritage of pioneering, both from a historical and technological perspective, would be taking some of the biggest steps and help lead the rest of the country as it begins to integrate solar energy into homes and small businesses and declare independence from fossil fuels?

In fact, the scientific, academic minds at the University of Toledo have helped lead the solar energy charge by creating a home for top solar researchers. Historically, it has been a business incubator that provides business services to solar entrepreneurs. It has graduated several solar companies and more are on their way. Owens Community College, which had 13 students in its first solar class in 2004, has trained hundreds of installers.

The mission is being led by an unusual partnership of business, academia and government that could be a model for other aging industrial cities. “We are ready to do anything; we are ready to try anything,” said University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs.

This effort is supported by NW Ohio Solar Energy Hub. The hub is comprised of economic and research-oriented partnerships between regional education institutions and leaders in the private sector. The list of educational institutions includes UT, Bowling Green State University, Owens Community College, Penta Career Center, Terra Community College and Northwest State Community College.

Like many manufacturing cities, Toledo has struggled with the loss of jobs and tax revenue, but it has taken pieces of its past as the glass capital to create a new future in solar energy. “Toledo is really emerging as a hotbed of activity for the solar industry,” says Monique Hanis of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group based in Washington. Toledo’s evolution as a center of the solar industry is the result of a unique, communitywide effort that includes representatives of the city, economic development groups and key politicians.

Just outside Toledo in Henry County, the U.S. subsidiary Isofoton North America is building a solar panel module-making plant in Napoleon, Ohio this summer. They have just announced that they secured $15 million in financing required for the project. Module delivers will go to local Ohioans who have already contracted to buy 300 mW worth of solar panels. The 30+ million dollar plant will produce crystalline silicon solar panels and is likely to create 300 new jobs. Jobs created by Isofoton are expected to pay an average of $19 an hour, state officials said.

Over at Ohio State University, students participated in the biannual “ Solar Decathlon” competition. . Teams set up energy-efficient homes in Washington D.C. from September through early October, where they compete and offer daily tours to educate the public about ways to make their own homes more sustainable. This year, OSU placed fifth out of 20 teams from the U.S., Belgium, Canada, China and New Zealand. In 2009, OSU placed 10th. The homes were so inviting that, “So many people were saying they could see themselves living in it,” said Mark Walter, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

For residential and small business use of solar energy, the most efficient way of producing solar energy is to convert the sunlight directly into electricity for use as solar heat and solar electric with a self contained roof or pole mounted system. This process is called a photovoltaic process (PV). Solar photovoltaic is growing rapidly, though still much smaller than fossil and nuclear sources, to a total global capacity of 67,000 megawatts at the end of 2011. This process is getting more and more affordable as new technologies are being brought to bear.

With an established and growing supply chain and a supportive state and academia, Ohio is ready to increase installed capacity for solar generation, and put the state on the path to create even more renewable energy manufacturing and solar contractor jobs. With costs dropping and technology and solar employment on the rise, Ohio is ready to truly shine as a giant in the alternative energy world!

This is supported by the recent commitment of Walgreen’s pharmacy chain to solar energy. The company began building solar installations at the first 20 retail locations in Cincinnati earlier this month, and expects to have 53 projects completed by Nov. 11. That would bring the total number of solar installations at Walgreens stores up to 136, and could generate a total of 2 megawatts of energy for the chain.

Over in Upper Sandusky, Columbus-based AEP will invest $20 million in a major undertaking. Back in 2010 AEP announced plans to build a 50 MW solar project in southeastern Ohio. The first panels are expected to go online in the next few months, and the final panels should be operational in late 2014. The first 20 MW will begin construction in the summer of 2012 and online in late 2012, with another 15 MW coming online in late 2013, and the final 15 MW in late 2014. This will significantly increase the number of SRECs available in the Ohio market. Currently, AEP obtains a significant number of required SRECs from the 12 MW Wyandot Solar Facility in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. With both facilities scheduled to be online for the entire 2013 reporting year, this will make up approximately 24% of the total Ohio SREC requirement and approximately 48% of the In-State Ohio SREC requirement.

As of the end of 2010, the country had 2,086 megawatts of utility-scale photovoltaic power, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group. California leads the nation with 396 megawatts, followed by Nevada with 143 and Florida with 125. Ohio follows in the group right after. You can expect Ohio to be out in front again before you know it.

Our North American Solar Store in Ohio is located in North Canton just south of Akron, Ohio. If you are in their vicinity and are interested in solar panels for your home or business please pay them a visit!

CFS Solar – a NASS Member Store
5537 Whipple Ave., NW, North Canton, OH 44720
Main Phone – 330-499-7341 – email CFS

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