Tennessee on forefront of solar energy market
Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 9:39 am
Tennessee is emerging as a national player on the fast-growing solar energy scene.
That was the message at the 2012 Solar Solutions Conference, hosted by the Tennessee Valley Authority and Tennessee Solar Institute, which met last week at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
“Worldwide investment in solar energy grew by more than a third last year, hitting $137 billion, and Tennessee companies are earning a healthy piece of this burgeoning business,” said John Sanseverino, Ph.D., program director of the Tennessee Solar Institute. “Tennessee now has 180 for-profit companies in the solar sector, including 33 new companies that have set up shop since 2008.”
The Solar Solutions Conference brought together more than 500 people, including industry and government leaders from across the country, to discuss the future of solar energy. Since 2008, Tennessee has gone from less than a tenth of a megawatt of solar photovoltaic capacity, to more than 27 megawatts of solar power installed.
“TVA’s partnerships with the Tennessee Solar Institute and local power distributors are essential to the development of solar power and the success of TVA solar initiatives in Tennessee,” said Patty West, director of TVA Renewable Energy Programs. “Information shared at this conference will help us continue to provide orderly and sustainable renewable energy programs necessary to support a competitive solar industry.”
As a result of TVA’s programs, there are 47.5 megawatts of solar capacity operational today and another 61 megawatts is in the development pipeline for a total of nearly 109 megawatts of solar generation currently operating or approved in the Tennessee Valley. Since 2000, operating solar installations in the Tennessee Valley have grown from 3 to over 860, according to a news release.
The Tennessee Solar Insttitute has leveraged more than $40 million in private investments and produced over 174,000 job hours worked, with a total cumulative benefit to the state’s economy of $63.8 million. TSI has deployed seven megawatts of solar energy though its Solar Installation and Innovation Grant Programs.