EGEB: Indiana solar struggles, Google’s Taiwan solar project, NC open for wind

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Today in EGEB, a new bill designed to jumpstart Indiana’s solar industry looks to be stopped before it gets started. Google’s first green project in Asia. And a moratorium on North Carolina land-based wind projects ends.

A new bipartisan bill in Indiana’s state senate aims at undoing some damage done by a previous bill — but it looks to be dead in the water. State Sen. Jim Merritt (R), chair of the Senate Utility Committee, won’t conduct a hearing on the bill, IndyStar reports.

SB 309 removed incentives for home solar panel installation upon being signed into law in May 2017, phasing out net metering. The Sierra Club referred to the bill as “solar-killing” at the time. 

IndyStar notes Indiana’s solar industry was “among the fastest growing in the country” prior to SB 309’s passage. But in 2017, the growth rate of Indiana’s solar industry dropped 93 percent, adding only 75 solar jobs. Meanwhile, neighboring Illinois saw its solar growth skyrocket due to solar-friendly state policies.

Merritt told IndyStar the new bill was rejected because it’s too soon to tell what the overall effect of SB 309 is. He said, 

“I think we need to give this some time for us to see where we went wrong and where we went right. I’d like to give 309 some time to see if we did in fact dampen down the solar industry. And that’s why I didn’t hear the bill this year.”

As the report points out, a similar bill hurt solar development in Nevada, but the state’s net metering program returned after one year. It doesn’t look like Indiana will see that quick reversal.

Google Solar

Google’s first green project in Asia will be a solar project in Taiwan, CNBC reports. The 10-megawatt project will likely involve solar panels installed on poles, above fishing ponds in Tainan City, Taiwan.

The “canopy” system is the most likely arrangement for the project, but Google is apparently considering other options. Many solar arrays over water float directly on the surface of the water.

CNBC’s report covers some of the ground we’ve touched on in a recent EGEB — namely, that Japan and China are far ahead of the U.S. when it comes to floating solar arrays. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most obvious is land availability. There’s generally more competition for available land in those parts of Asia.

But all of this could change if U.S. developers and officials recognize the potential of floating solar. A December report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated the U.S. could generate about 10 percent of its annual electricity from floating solar photovoltaics on 24,000 man-made reservoirs.

Google became 100 percent powered by renewable energy in 2017. The company is the world’s largest corporate energy buyer.

North Carolina Winds

An 18-month ban on land-based wind projects has ended in North Carolina. But the state is still more interested in pursuing offshore wind projects, Energy News Network reports.

A few land-based projects were affected in the past year, but there’s nothing new on the horizon. The main factors are state restrictions on building wind projects on mountains, and the overall uncertainty of what might happen to land-based wind projects in the future. President of the Southeastern Wind Coalition Katharine Kollins said, “Why would you choose this market when another provides more stability?”

Kollins is far more positive about North Carolina’s offshore wind development. The federal government leased an area off the Outer Banks that could eventually be the site for a wind farm of up to 2.5 gigawatts. Officials have also identified locations off the southern coast of the state as possible offshore wind development areas. Kollins said,

“I think we’ll see a lot more momentum on offshore in North Carolina than I ever thought possible.”

But while the Kitty Hawk project “is still six years away or more from completion,” other areas of the U.S. surge ahead in offshore wind.

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Phil Dzikiy is an Editor/Writer with Electrek/9to5Mac. Tips: