New Jersey set new single-month record for installed solar capacity and number of installations in June, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced on Monday.
The activity brings the state's installed solar capacity to more than 380 MW generated from over 10,000 solar arrays statewide, something the DEP maintains is a new milestone.
"Reaching 10,000 solar installations in New Jersey demonstrates this administration's commitment to continue to promote and expand the state's solar industry and is a critical element of our long-term energy strategy," Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement. "This ground-breaking achievement is the latest example of New Jersey's leadership as one of the largest and fastest growing solar energy markets in the United States."
New Jersey is second in the nation in both installed solar capacity and number of installations, the DEP said. Only California has more. As of June 30, New Jersey has 10,086 solar energy array projects installed across the state providing over 380 MW of installed capacity, due in large part to the state's Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) Registration Program.
During June, 520 solar projects totaling over 40 MW of capacity were installed, representing the most projects and the largest amount of solar capacity installed in one month.Recent projects include the largest rooftop solar array in the country at the Gloucester Marine Terminal with its over 9MW and 27,528 photovoltaic rooftop panels covering 1.1 million square feet as well as Avidan Management's installation of 17,745 solar panels, which will represent 4.26 MW of solar capacity at its company-owned facility in Edison. The 4.26 MW system will produce more than 5 million kilowatt hours annually and is expected to reduce carbon emissions of approximately 3,750 tons yearly.
"Solar energy is more than just a form of clean distributed generation,” state Public Utilities President Lee A. Solomon said. “These projects provide an opportunity for the involved business to improve its bottom line and grow in New Jersey, stimulating economic development."
Christie has called for increased solar projects on landfills and brownfields as an important element of his draft 2011 Energy Master Plan. Last year, he signed legislation exempting solar panels from certain land use restrictions, identifying solar energy developments as an environmentally important land use.
The state Meadowlands Commission recently began construction on a project to transform a closed landfill into a productive solar farm that will generate up to 3 megawatts of electricity. The solar installation project at the 1A Landfill in Kearny is a joint effort between the commission, SunDurance Energy and Public Service Electric & Gas Co. The grid-connected solar installation will feature 12,506 solar panels mounted on 13 acres atop the 35-acre landfill.
In June, the commission leased the 13 acres to SunDurance Energy, which will build the solar array. PSE&G will purchase the solar farm just prior to completion and take over the lease from SunDurance. The utility will own and operate the facility as part of its Solar 4 All program. The solar farm is expected to be placed in service during the fourth quarter of 2011. Installation of solar panels is expected to begin later this summer.
In addition to its solar landfill project, this year the commission will construct a solar canopy over its administration building parking lot. The canopy will generate approximately 20 percent of the electricity needs of the headquarters.
New Jersey had one of the strongest growth markets for solar energy installations in 2010 and in the first quarter of 2011. For the first quarter of 2011, New Jersey installed 42 MW of solar, representing 49 percent growth over first quarter 2010. The state has primarily become a market for non-residential projects over 100 kW and most growth over the past few quarters has been in larger projects over 1 MW. In addition, New Jersey has the nation's most robust and mature SREC market, along with the best availability for long-term SREC contracts, which make project financing much easier to obtain.
"Solar energy, along with clean, in-state power generation from offshore wind, natural gas and nuclear, and new technologies such as alternatively fueled vehicles is a key component of a greener, more affordable vision for New Jersey's energy future," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. "The draft 2011 Energy Master Plan reinforces the Christie administration's commitment to promoting solar where it makes both environmental and economic sense, expanding implementation of commercial and industrial solar projects."
Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Sierra Club director, is unimpressed with the solar energy statistics offered by the DEP.
“While the Christie administration is celebrating our latest achievement on solar energy, his administration is dismantling the programs that made this possible,” Tittel said. “New Jersey now has 10,000 solar arrays producing 380 MW of clean, renewable energy but Governor Christie’s energy policies are jeopardizing New Jersey’s continued clean energy leadership.
“Forty MW were installed in June showing we are exceeding the goals of the 2008 energy master plan. Governor Christie’s revised energy master plan abandons our state’s clean energy goals in favor of increased dependence on polluting fossil fuels,” Tittel said. “New Jersey was on track to meet the aggressive clean energy goals outlined in the 2008 energy master plan, but weakening these standards will cost the state green jobs and economic stability, critical pollution reductions, and energy independence.