Thanks to federal stimulus money, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund(CCEF) will soon launch a rebate program for solar thermal — or solarhot water — energy systems. By covering 20 percent of associated costs,the state aims to support the installation of 600 residential solarthermal systems and 100 commercial solar thermal systems. The HartfordBusiness Journal provides a quick and interesting Q&A with Dave Ljungquist, Associate Director of Project Development at CCEF:
HB: The program hopes to support approximately600 residential and about 100 commercial domestic hot waterapplications. What’s the impact from taking those applications off thepower grid?
DL: Although only about 30 percent of Connecticut’s homes useelectric hot water heaters, the economics of using ST are significantlymore favorable than for homes or businesses using gas or oil-firedheaters. Consequently, we would expect that more than 30 percent of theapplicants will have electric hot water heat. If we assume 50 percentof the residential applicants have electric hot water heaters and 50percent have either gas or oil, the residential market should accountfor an annual reduction of 1,159 MWh in electrical generation, and areduction of 7,623 MMBtu in natural gas and oil consumption. We canassume that the commercial market will be largely oil- or naturalgas-fired, so the savings from the commercial installations should beabout 15,250 MMBtu (152,500 therms). This is equivalent to 109,700gallons of fuel oil. The reduction in electrical energy consumption(from the electric hot water heating customers) will reduce fossil fuelconsumption at the generating plants by another 10,500 MMBtu, sooverall, the ST Program should reduce annual fossil fuel consumption inConnecticut by 33,373 MMBtu, or the equivalent of 240,000 gallons offuel oil. These systems will avoid the creation of 2,686 tons of carbondioxide very year, for the life of the systems.
Don’t fret if you didn’t follow the details. The main takeaways: (1)solar thermal (solar hot water) systems typically make more economicsense if they’ll be supplementing or replacing an electric waterheater; (2) regardless of the previous points, solar thermal systemsare among the most economical ways of heating domestic water; (3) theCCEF solar thermal program will lead to considerable fuel savings. Theinterview continues:
HB: Contractors marketing or developing solarthermal (ST) systems must be approved by the CCEF as a Solar ThermalEligible Contractor to participate. How many certified contractors arethere in Connecticut?
DL: CCEF has not approved any “eligible contractors” yet. A requestfor qualifications will be issued within a week to solicitapplications, and we expect a quick response from a few companies thatare currently installing ST systems in the state. We intend to have alist of “eligible contractors” available to the public when the programis officially launched. We recognize that the Connecticut labor pool isvery low for the number of ST installations that we anticipate over thenext 32 months. There are only 87 holders of the ST-1 license inConnecticut. However, only one ST-1 is required for each installationcompany, to supervise the journeymen installers (ST-2 license) andapprentices who will do most of the physical work. We expect theworkforce to grow rapidly, as demand improves for solar thermal systems.
While CCEF is not yet accepting applications for the solar thermal (solar hot water) incentive program, they anticipatedoing so starting August 1. Stay tuned for updates on the solar hotwater installer bit. (In the meantime, feel free to browse our directory of qualified solar pros.)