In 2017, Virginia ranked 10th as the nation’s largest solar industry. While its ranking fell slightly in 2018, the Commonwealth still remains one of the country’s most promising places for solar expansion.
There are currently 68,605 homes using solar energy in Virginia. The Solar Energy Industries Association projects that the state will have the 11th largest industry growth in the next five years, nearly quadrupling its solar energy presence to 2,200 Megawatts of power, which currently sits at about 630 MW.
Although solar energy accounts for only 0.59% of the state’s electricity, it has created 3,565 jobs since the industry really took off about a decade ago. As private investments and government tax credits continue to spur economic growth and falling prices, the number of jobs powering solar businesses is expected to rise.
What’s behind it?
Virginia’s recent take off in solar power capacity comes in part due to the commercial scale solar projects that some of the nation’s most recognized corporations have built.
In 2016, the Amazon Solar Farm US East project opened and was able to generate over 170,000 Megawatt-hours of electricity every year. That’s enough energy to power 15,000 Virginian homes. Located just across the Chesapeake Bay in Accomack County, this installation will power the corporation’s Virginia data centers.
The world’s largest international furniture retailer, IKEA, went solar atop their Woodbridge location in 2012, building what was at the time the state’s largest photovoltaic installation. The project spans 63,000-square-feet and reduces about 439 tons of carbon dioxide annually. This is the same amount of CO2 that 86 cars would produce or 55 homes would produce in one year.
Locally-based businesses in the lead
Fairfax County is home to its own regional solar company, Ipsun Power, originating in the City of Fairfax itself. While it originated in Virginia, Ipsun has expanded throughout the Washington, D.C. and Maryland as industry growth has gained steady momentum.
But perhaps the driving factor behind the recent growth is the increased awareness of the many benefits that come with going solar.
By significantly reducing or eliminating the user’s monthly electric bill, solar panels will pay for themselves in about 11-13 years time on average in Virginia. To shorten that time frame, owners of solar panels can contribute any excess energy they produce back to their utility and receive bill credit in return.
Consumers can save even more by filing for the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Customers with tax liability can take 30% of the installation cost from their federal taxes that year. Learn about solar and give us a call to talk through all your questions and find out how well you home or business qualifies.