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Solar Water Heating Is Hot in MA, HI, and AZ…. Not So Much in CA

The latest SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight report is out, and it includes news about California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Arizona, and Maryland. Here’s a summary of the report and a bit of our own perspective.


Arizona. Arizona’s solar hot water market remains quite strong, according to SEIA/GTM, with most utilities offering production incentives that can cover up to half of a system’s costs. Nice. SEIA’s report is projecting that Arizona will be a leading market by the end of 2011. We’re crossing our fingers for our Free Hot Water dealers in Arizona. Of course, if we can help with engineering or components, please let us know.


California. The up to $1,875 incentive for residential and $500,000 for commercial and multi-family structures are still available here in California, and that’s good and bad. It’s good because California solar hot water installers still have generous incentives to offer customers. On the negative side, the incentive availability also says that consumers and commercial customers are still hesitant about investing in solar hot water.

In our view, the CSI administrators and CALSEIA need to provide more consumer awareness and education for solar hot water. Free Hot Water is doing our best to get the word out, but we can’t do it alone.

Hawaii. The Hawaiian residential solar water heating market came back to life in Q1 2011 thanks to a residential solar thermal rebate of up to $1,500 per OG-300 system. And then… the rebate was subsequently reduced to $750 per system.  However, due to Hawaii being 100% dependent on imported fuel from the U.S. mainland, solar hot water still remains an attractive option for homeowners, so sales are still strong. Speaking of OG-300 systems, Free Hot Water has three new OG-300 lines with just-reduced prices, making solar hot water systems even more cost effective for Hawaiians and our partner installers there. He mea iki. (You’re welcome.)

Maryland.  As Free Hot Water reported a few months ago, Maryland is now allowing solar water heating systems to generate SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates). However, only new systems installed after June 1, 2011 qualify. Second, only SRECs generated after January 1, 2012 are eligible.  SEIA’s analysts are saying that this policy won’t do a hell of a lot for Maryland’s solar water heating market, but they note that other Eastern states may follow Maryland’s lead, and that could grow the overall Eastern U.S. market significantly.

Massachusetts. In 2010, Massachusetts launched a pilot solar water heating rebate program with a generous $3,500 maximum rebate for a residential systems and up to $65,000 for commercial systems. Rebates are based on the number of collectors in the system and their SRCC ratings. (FYI, Free Hot Water’s SRCC ratings for our collectors are available in our online catalog.) We’re rooting for Massachusetts to continue and expand the program. The state has grown tremendously with solar PV installations, and we hope the state adds solar hot water to its aggressive cleantech growth.

That’s the latest update from SEIA/GTM Research. These updates come out quarterly and cover the entire solar industry. We’ll sum up the solar water heating side and add our own perspective as each report comes out. If you’d like to read the entire executive summary report, click SMI-Q2-2011-ES (pdf).

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