DENVER – The Solar Thermal Alliance of Colorado (STAC) released its “roadmap” report Tuesday after nearly a year of working with stakeholders throughout the state to spur investment and local economic growth.
The report provides Colorado with a detailed guide for making the state a global leader in solar thermal research, development, manufacturing and deployment.
The Colorado Solar Thermal Roadmap was presented to a group of elected officials, researchers, industry executives, environmental leaders, academics and residents at the Denver Housing Authority’s (DHA) Mulroy Opportunity Center, located in west Denver. Mulroy is a solar powered installation, serving as an example of the marked savings derived from solar thermal heating and as the launch site of the STAC’s statewide initiative.
Solar thermal systems collect the sun’s radiation to provide heat for hot water in homes and commercial buildings, for space heat or to provide electricity. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Florida Solar Energy Center, Colorado has a natural advantage in the solar industry over other states due to its dramatic daily temperature swings, abundant sunshine, cold ground water and annual heating loads.
The Roadmap’s recommendations will facilitate dramatic progress toward goals that state leaders have articulated well for years: economic growth, energy independence, reduction in CO2 and other emissions, reduced total life-cycle costs of fossil fuels and improved state import-export balance, to name just a few.
“Solar thermal technologies offer impressive economic benefits for Coloradoans,” notes Neal Lurie, Executive Director, Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA). “Not only do they help consumers reduce their monthly utility bills, but solar thermal is a labor-intensive business that provides significant job creation benefits, creating tremendous opportunities for qualified local design, manufacturing, sales, distribution, and installation professionals.”
The Roadmap’s goals include adding more than 24,000 new jobs in Colorado by 2050, including positions in sales, distribution, manufacturing, and over 10,000 jobs in solar thermal installation.
PATH TO GROWTH
The Roadmap also identifies a clear strategy for how Colorado can effectively reach these goals, detailing four key areas of activity:
♦ Increasing consumer awareness by developing consumer relationships, improving communication, and ensuring the quality delivered by the state’s solar thermal industry.
♦ Developing financing mechanisms through collaboration with financial institutions and the deployment of pilot financing programs.
♦ Leveling the state’s energy policy playing field. This effort requires balancing energy standards to include solar thermal, and creating a stable environment that encourages long-term investment, innovation, and efficiencies.
♦ Solving local impediments, such as development of solar friendly communities, identifying best industry practices, and creating simple, clear and consistent zoning and permitting requirements across jurisdictions.
Tony Frank, Executive Director of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, stated “All of these goals are quite achievable. However, they can only be achieved by a concerted campaign involving for-profit, non-profit and governmental stakeholder collaboration.”
Frank adds, “Organizations such as DHA show what can be accomplished and the benefits that residents receive when the commitment to solar thermal heating is made.”
DHA RENEWABLE ENERGY
In addition to its Mulroy site, DHA has been active with many renewable energy measures on various projects in recent years. Some of the highlighted measures in addition to solar thermal include solar photovoltaic and geo-exchange (thermal), which have been implemented at Hirschfeld Towers, Benedict Park Place, 1099 Osage Apartments and planned for the redevelopment of South Lincoln Homes.
“This solar thermal installation at Mulroy is representative of our ongoing dedication to creating responsible and sustainable communities for our residents”, shares Christopher Parr, DHA’s Director of Real Estate Development. “We seek to employ multiple renewable energy measures, such as solar thermal, at our various housing sites to significantly lower operating costs. It’s a practical commitment that is a baseline for all of our new development efforts.”