Does solar work in Michigan? This is the most common question raised when discussing the potential for solar in Michigan due to our rapidly fluctuating weather and seasonal conditions. Despite these climatic realities, there exists significant solar potential for our state. Cooler air temperatures allow for increased panel efficiency, meaning panels installed in Michigan can generate more voltage per sunlight hour than those installed in hot “sunny” states.
For comparison, we turn to Germany. Germany receives less sunlight than Michigan, but generates more solar power than any other country. From its southern to northern border, Germany’s Latitude runs from 48 to 54 degrees. In Michigan, the highest Latitude in the state is 47 Degrees (Houghton) and the lowest is 41 Degrees (New Buffalo). Yet, despite having less access to sun than Michigan, Germany is continuing to rapidly deploy solar generation through targeted advancement policies and programs. Overall, Germany generates almost 3 times the amount of energy from solar than the entire United States.
Solar is also becoming a more cost-effective solution. Just a few years ago the average price for installed solar was over $9 per watt. Today costs have dropped to roughly $3 per watt for panels that are more efficient. Due to dropping prices, an ever increasing number of businesses and residents in Michigan are now installing solar and and enjoying the benefits of generating their own clean energy along with reducing utility costs. In addition, homeowners and businesses can take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit.
A nearby example to Clean Energy Coalition includes the popular watering hole, Arbor Brewing Company. Arbor Brewing Company installed a 2.4kW photovoltaic array and 300 solar thermal collector tubes. The system offsets gas usage by between 40% and 50%, and electricity usage between 15% and 25%. Another Ann Arbor example includes the Michigan Theater. The Michigan Theater installed a 3.24kW system to help offset their energy use. In this case, the cost of the solar array was only $2.88/W.
For more information on solar and other renewable energy systems view our renewable energy fact sheets. If you are business or residential property owner looking to install renewables use our Renewable Energy Guidebook to get started and make sure to sign up to our solar news list to recieve more information on our future program offerings to be announced later this year. For communities looking to encourage more solar installations in your area use our Solar Ready Guidebook to help make your community solar ready.
Source: Clean Energy Coalition
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