Professional Engineers Of North Carolina

FALL 2014

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22 the Professional Engineer Fall 2014 N orth Carolina has experienced exponential growth in installed solar capacity since 2007, making it a national leader in creating electricity from the sun. According to the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, as of September 1, 2014, North Carolina has 464 mega- watts of installed solar capacity. Te solar market has experienced rapid expansion and remained strong because of several key policy drivers that include the Renewable Energy and Energy Efciency Portfolio Standard (REPS); the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (REITC), a standard ofer from the state's utilities for qualifying facilities; and other key policies. RTI International reports these policy elements have led to $2.1 billion of investment in renewable energy technology from 2007 to 2013. Job creation, fscal benefts to state and local governments in the form of increased tax revenue, and industry growth are all tangible net benefts that validate solar's presence in North Carolina. Te positive economic efect that the North Carolina solar industry has had on low-income, rural areas is one of the Southeast's biggest economic success stories during the Great Recession. Te energy efciency, smart grid and solar industries are the three largest employers of North Carolina's clean energy industry. According to data from the North Carolina Utilities Commission and the U.S. Depart- ment of Energy, installed costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have decreased substantially over the past decade. In 2004, the cost per watt was $10.57 for small residential systems; while, in 2014, that cost dropped to just $4.91 per watt. For larger, utility-scale installations, costs have dropped to $1.80 per watt. Tis decrease was primarily driven by falling module prices associated with manufacturing efciencies and global trade. Economies of scale also have played an important role in reducing the cost of solar PV installation as the average system size has increased. While it is important to note that decreased cost of hardware has made the solar PV market more competitive with traditional sources of electricity, North Carolina's highly regulated electricity market is monopolized by S o l a r B y I v a N U r l a U B a N d r a l p h T h o m p s o N , p E Solar eclipse Solar power is on the rise to overtake traditional electricity production in North Carolina.

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