Commodity Corner

Views on commodities and energy

from Jasmin Melvin:

Who needs stocks when you’ve got solar panels

While everyone's talking about recession and job cutbacks, the solar industry is growing and finding new customers, the head of a solar installation company told Reuters.
Jeffery Wolfe, founder and CEO of groSolar, said, "There's still a huge amount of people out there that can well afford solar and haven't done it yet."
GroSolar, the fourth largest residential solar panel installer in the United States, saw $60 million in sales last year and exceeded its sales targets for January.
Consumers can lease solar panels for their home or purchase a system upfront for around $20,000-$25,000 after figuring in tax incentives.
"While the economy is what it is, there are an awful lot of people out there who still have equity, have good jobs, have savings, have investments that are working," Wolfe said.
He maintained that people who are losing money in the stock market are beginning to look at solar as returns on solar panels on a home are guaranteed. 
"We are 0.1 percent of the marketplace today so our marketplace is growing rapidly, and we've got a lot of room to grow still --  even in this current economy," Wolfe said.
Wolfe noted that almost every state in the country has at least 30 percent more sun than Germany, the world's leader in solar energy.
Some homebuilders are even looking to solar to differentiate their developments from others while the housing market remains in disarray. Wolfe said he's seen developers market new solarized projects in hopes of attracting more interest and buyers.
Third party financing is just beginning to reach the solar market and will only add to the industry's growth potential, according to Wolfe.
He said after taking into account redbates and tax credits, and amortizing the rest over 18 years, the cost is about what a consumer would normally pay for power from the grid.

GroSolar isn't alone in its sector. Other solar companies are also seeing profits despite the economic slump.
Solar module maker First Solar saw its fourth quarter earnings and revenue more than double from a year ago to $132.8 million and $433.7 million, respectively, thanks to growing demand for its solar panels.

For more Reuters green business news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Parth Sanyal (A solar housing complex in India); Reuters/Mike Blake (A home under construction in California uses solar technology in its shingles)

from Environment Forum:

From Suds to Sunshine in Brooklyn

A green contracting outfit based in a former Brooklyn brewery says it's the first business in a major U.S. city that can sell power back to the grid that it generates from the sun.

New York state gave Big Sue, LLC, which has about 3,500 square feet of solar panels on its roof, the OK to sell any extra power it generates from the panels back to the grid.