Friday, October 9, 2009

Have you found your solar niche yet?

Opportunity for the glass industry in the emerging solar market has been the topic of much discussion for some time now. Big companies, such as Guardian, have already climbed on the bandwagon; small companies are looking for ways to get their piece of the pie.

I attended the solar seminar at GBA: The Glass, Window & Door Expo Oct. 1. Panelists at the seminar, moderated by Russ Ebeid, made amply clear that the solar market is a plumb opportunity for the glass and glazing industry.

"This is a huge growth opportunity,” said Steve Coonen, solar design consultant, Applied Solar, San Diego. “The glass industry hasn’t taken on this photovoltaic challenge yet. Why be afraid? Why not take it up as a serious opportunity to make money?"

The rest of the panel talked about PV in China; CSP in the U.S. and Spain; BIPV in Europe and North America, and about the current state of those different technologies and applications. Read the article.

The government is doing its share to encourage energy efficiency. It has provided $32.6 billion in funding to the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. More than half of these funds went to the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program office.

The Recovery Act also includes $2.3 billion to fund 30 investment tax credits for manufacturing assets used to manufacture advanced solar products. This program is run through the Department of Treasury and that department must certify the projects.

The act extends bonus depreciation as an incentive for manufacturers to invest in new equipment. Half the cost of the equipment is deducted immediately when the equipment is placed in service with the remaining amount depreciated normally.

The ASTM, for its part, has started work on a possible solar glass standard. Members of ASTM International Committee E44 on Solar, Geothermal, and Other Energy Sources, and ASTM International Committee C14 on Glass and Glass Products met with representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy Sept. 29 to develop and maintain “standards for glass and glass coatings for solar applications that include, but are not limited to, photovoltaic, solar thermal, and concentrating applications. The standards will address the characteristics that affect performance, durability and reliability.” Read the article.

Interested parties who want to participate in the ASTM standard process, should write Pat Picariello or Christine DeJong.

Seems to me like there has never been a better time to jump on the solar bandwagon. As Ebeid said at the GBA seminar: “I have talked about mega trends, especially those that illustrate how government regulations and product innovations combine to change the business climate irreversibly. Solar, if and when realized, is touted to be one of those game changers.”

What’s your take on this emerging market? Is this going to be like the dot-com bubble or is it here to stay?

—By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine


Anonymous said...

Glaziers can help their customers learn about PV technology and other energy conserving glass developments. While we might not be qualified to provide specific design and application criteria, we can expose the concepts and perhaps provide contacts for them to get more education. This consultative approach can help glaziers get closer to the customers and together learn how to apply these technologies in the future.

Anonymous said...

As gas prices fall, will solar energy be as hot an idea? Because, let's face it, we're not about to run out of fossil fuel anytime soon. Oil prices will go up and down; will the popularity of solar energy stay constant?