The Ups and Downs in the Maryland Solar Industry

A great stepping stone for the Maryland solar industry would be to add solar energy systems to state buildings. Well, on March 24th, 2010, just that happened. The Maryland Department of General Services announced that they would be installing photovoltaic systems on 5 of their buildings. Engaged in a 20-year power purchase agreement with SunEdison to install, finance, own and operate the five solar systems, Maryland taxpayers would not be responsible for the upfront cost of the projects. Photovoltaic arrays would also be a great addition to the Maryland renewable energy portfolio.

Another good sign for the Maryland solar industry involves the Maryland Energy Administration updating a new incentive program for the installation of mid-sized solar electric systems. In an attempt to make clean energy retrofits accessible to local businesses, the two year program would use a total of up to $1.45 million to help subsidize the cost of commercial rooftop solar projects.

Maryland businesses would qualify for a rebate of $500 per kilowatt of solar electricity installed for systems between 20 and 100 kilowatts, or a grant of up to $50,000. The Maryland Energy Administration incentive program would also cover up to 15% of a solar thermal system, or up to $25,000 per grant. Business owners should be very attracted to this offer as the economy is prime for building your own photovoltaic business from the ground up. The Maryland solar industry will undoubtedly see growth from this move.

But in the end, one blemish to the Maryland solar industry must be noted. On March 26th, BP Solar regretfully laid off 320 of their 430 employees putting a halt to all production of photovoltaic panels in their Frederick, Maryland plant.

Unfortunately, because we are still in a recession, the Maryland solar industry along with other states’ markets will still see setbacks like the one previously mentioned. This might be another sad event that needs to occur for the entire green economy to move forward. Some solar companies will have to fail before we see price drops and the huge boom the solar industry seems to be waiting impatiently for.