Saturday, August 18, 2007

Growth Potential for Solar in MA

As anyone here will readily tell you, the MA Bay Area is undoubtedly an awesome place to be right now in the sphere of cleantech. During the last couple months, I've been trying to put a finger on what exactly makes this place so special. Besides the high density of players in the New England energy community (Dave Danielson's point), an exciting piece of this puzzle is growth potential.

When one compares the distributions of population and solar energy companies throughout the U.S., one can't help but notice the high population density east of the Mississippi. The strong industrial, technology, and academic traditions of the Bos-Wash and Chi-Pitts corridors creates unique and favorable conditions for new entrants. Don't be surprised to see East Coast brands (e.g., IBM) as well as new entrants (spin-offs) joining in during the next months.
(this map is by no means complete!!)

Nocturnal view of U.S. from space, from GE Energy

Solar resource base of Germany and the U.S., compared on same scale. Source: SEIA


David Danielson said...

Some excellent points as to why MA can become a leader in both solar innovation and deployment in the near future given the right policies. MA/Northeast has the intellectual assets, the solar resource, and a large potential regional market. All we need now is the policy to synergize these preexisting assets.

Everyone always focuses on the fact that MA has an amazing density of intellectual assets in its research institutions (which indeed it does).

However, you make two much more underappreciated points about the potential for solar in MA/ Northeast wonderfully clear through your graphics.

1.) There is a huge market for renewable power in the Northeast simply b/c the Northeast uses so much electric power. The light at night map is a proxy for electric power usage - note that the Northast, esp along the coast, is much brighter than California on average in this graphic.

2.) The solar resource in the Northeast is not particulary poor(~1500-1600 kWh/kW*yr in the Northeast vs 1800-1900 in the CA Bay Area) and is a whole lot better than Germany's (now a global leader in PV manufacturing and deployment simply due to its forward looking energy policies)

What are the right policies to get MA and the Northeast moving to take advantage of this?

jessy said...

love the graphic with US compared to Germany solar resources!

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