Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Florida
Because of its location and size, Florida is the state that uses the most electricity in the US of which only 2.3% is currently provided by renewable technologies. While it ranks 10th in the US for utility produced solar, there is a lot of work to do if the state is to compete with the likes of California and Colorado when it comes to green energy.
Florida has a number of renewable energy technology incentives in place and is ideally situated both for solar PV and thermal and, with a large amount of coastline, the possibility of tidal power. The Florida coastline is at the heart of tidal innovation with a site that organizations use to test new electricity generating schemes from sea based turbine technology.
While Florida ranks third in the potential for solar for the US, it only achieves 14th place when it comes down to actual installations. There is a solid industry in the state with 4,800 people employed but the level of uptake means that there is only enough electricity produced to power some 29,000 homes. Despite prices falling by as much as 32% in recent years, the industry has failed to take off as expected.
Organizations such as the military have been quick to turn to solar PV and some major stores have also started to convert. There are a number of solar plants, one of the largest being DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center which has a capacity of 25 MW.
Solar PV Incentives in Florida
Like a number of renewable technologies, solar PV benefits from the Federal Tax Rebate that reduces the overall cost of an installation by as much as 30%. In addition to this there is the opportunity for PACE financing for both commercial and residential sectors. The Orlando Utilities Commission runs a Residential Solar Loan Program that can provide financing up to $20,000 with repayments available over ten years. Individual counties and cities have their own incentive systems, primarily loans, including those offered by St Lucie county for solar up to a maximum of $50,000.
Solar PV Case Study in Florida
By far the most productive way to install solar in Florida is to purchase it outright. With lower costs for equipment and access to tax incentives and lower energy prices, the chance is good of making a sound return on investment. The cost of a 5 kW array in Florida should be around $17,500 and comes with a Federal Tax Rebate of $5,250. With a payback point of around 13 years that means you could be making over $18,000 over the standard 25-year lifetime of the installation. Estimates also suggest that putting in solar PV could increase house values by as much as $19,000.
Solar Thermal Incentives in Florida
With long months of bright sunshine, opting for solar water heating is a sensible way to go in Florida if you want to cut your long term costs. Solar thermal has some of the same incentives as solar PV, including the loan program run by the Orlando Utilities Commission up to a maximum of $7,000. The Clay Electric Cooperative also provide low cost loans for solar water heating for residential properties.
Small Hydro Incentives in Florida
The landscape of Florida doesn’t lend itself well to large hydroelectric plants and, despite its size, there are only two in the state that produce less than 20 MW combined. Small hydro takeup has been slow despite the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013. Hydro does benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate and there are grants available through national schemes such as the Rural Energy for America Program.
Geothermal Incentives in Florida
Installing renewable technology such as ground source heat pumps comes with most of the incentives that cover solar and wind. Location and type of property limit the uptake of this technology because homes have to be well insulated to take advantage and also need to have enough exterior space. Geothermal is included in the list for the Federal Tax Rebate and the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit.
Biomass Incentives in Florida
Florida has a burgeoning biomass industry and its subtropical climate has seen a growth in eucalyptus and citrus production. US Ecogen is currently working towards a biomass plant that will produce 180 MW of energy from this source. Biomass is already supported nationally with the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit and there is local PACE financing. There is no large calling for businesses to swap to more energy efficient biomass boilers as with other states but this could well change in the future as Florida develops its renewables portfolio.
Wind Power Incentives in Florida
Florida has lagged behind when it comes to wind power production perhaps because it has fairly light winds most of the year. Estimates suggest that it could provide 5 to 10 GW by 2030 but development is slow in coming. Incentives for installing a wind turbine include the Federal Tax Rebate but there are also the chance to take advantage of PACE financing. Other schemes such as the Government’s Loan Guarantee Program are available for businesses and local bodies such as schools.
Florida has been criticized in recent times for its slowness to act on renewables and set realistic targets for the future. 2014 saw it roll back the legislation and put less pressure on utility companies to act and get more of their power from green technologies. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of renewable energy incentives for both residential and commercial properties. You can see the full list at the DSIRE website.