Solar Thermal Set for Incentives

By Published On: February 1, 2013

Passive solar heating and cooling installations may receive payments through the 2006 California Solar Initiative--if they show metered energy delivery--according to a proposed California Public Utilities Commission decision. While financial incentives have applied to rooftop photovoltaic systems, they have not extended to solar-thermal installations, which have languished. The commission re-introduced the idea in 2010 with funds coming from natural gas ratepayers, under the theory that less fossil fuel would be used if solar thermal replaces natural gas. The 2010 plan suffered from a lack of applications. The new plan for $350 million in total rebates would be applied to: -Process heat; -Solar cooling; -Single family combination water/space heating; and -Commercial water/space heating. The proposed performance-based incentives are expected to “foster competition, expand the marketplace, and drive increased participation” in the state’s solar program, according to the proposed decision. That includes solar cooling, which is not a “commercially mature” technology. Incentives are supposed to establish “limited” pilot programs for heat-to-cooling, like absorption chillers.

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