Finally, the solar thermal industry has a specific new advocacy organization within SEIA. In mid February 2013, SEIA announced that it was forming the U.S. Solar Heating and Cooling Alliance (SHC Alliance), a SEIA division that will specifically address the PR and advocacy needs of the solar heating and cooling industry.
It’s about time. Solar heating and cooling technology is over 100 years old and used around the world, especially in Israel, China, Germany, and other island nations. In the United States, however, solar thermal is poorly represented in the media, as well as in clean energy policies.
Most of the press seems to lump all solar together, yet always refer to solar PV when “solar” is mentioned. That lack of awareness and attention for solar thermal leads to many local and state policies to limit rebate and incentive funding for solar PV only.
Take for example in California, where the CSI Thermal rebate program was funded in 2010, three years after the solar PV program. And despite solar thermal’s robust ROI for commercial applications, such as apartment buildings, hotels, and industrial process heat for food processing and other applications, solar thermal’s benefits and successes are rarely mentioned in the media compared to solar PV.
While it’s true that solar PV is a larger global industry, solar thermal is still worthy of attention as an efficient and cost-effective source for clean energy and offsetting greenhouse gasses, especially compared to electric and propane heating.
To address this lack of awareness, the SHC Alliance “will focus on growing the solar heating and cooling market through reducing barriers and advocating for policies on the federal, state and local levels,” according to the press release.
The SHC Alliance will be governed collaboratively by SEIA and the Alliance’s governing body, the U.S. Solar Heating and Cooling Council. Its stated goals are:
- To catalyze a common vision and raise awareness with all stakeholders, including policymakers, potential customers, investors and financiers
- To serve as the coordinated go-to voice on industry issues to ensure stakeholder interests are protected
- To energize the industry through collaboration and funding of collective priorities
- To take action to maintain and develop markets for SHC businesses to be a success
To accomplish these goals, the SHC Alliance is going to need funding, of course. Right now, it’s supported by SEIA and through contributions from industry members to the U.S. Solar Heating & Cooling Advocacy Fund.
To contribute, companies may submit a check to SEIA via the address below. A suggested contribution level can be found here. Members will receive exclusive industry information, although the press statements weren’t specific about what materials.
SHC Advocacy Fund
Solar Energy Industries Association
c/o Susan Miller
505 9th Street, Northwest Suite 800
Washington, DC 20004
The council will work in cooperation with Alliance membership to determine how the funds can be used to provide the greatest impact for the industry.
The current funding initiative includes The U.S. Solar Heating & Cooling Roadmap which will show how solar heating and cooling can be a fundamental piece of the U.S. energy portfolio, and will be used to advocate to policymakers on the benefits and potential of solar heating & cooling technologies.
Contributions to the Advocacy Fund are not tax deductible, but the solar thermal industry will ultimately benefit through the SHC Alliance’s efforts to increase solar hot water awareness and industry growth.
For more information, contact Katherine Stainken at SEIA.