Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Jersey Competes for Largest Solar Roof Installation

In the last century, builders raced to erect the tallest skyscraper in the world. This century, developers compete for a different feat: largest solar installations.

Since 2008, the North American record for the biggest solar installation on a single roof has been upped at least three times, with two more record-breaking attempts still under construction.

In New Jersey, in the past month alone, two projects have been announced that would double what is thought to be the current record for an installation, a FedEx facility in Woodbridge.

Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth announced plans for a solar installation on the mall's roof. To be completed in August, it will produce 4.8 megawatts, 11 percent of the mall's energy needs, according to numbers from PSE&G.

That project is neck and neck with one planned in Carteret on the roof of a distribution center for White Rose Inc., slated to produce 5 megawatts of energy a year.

"People will start claiming that they're the largest one," said Alan Epstein of KDC Solar, which will own and operate the Carteret project.

"It's like a fish story, to a certain extent," he said.

It's no coincidence that the state is an epicenter of solar growth in the country, experts say.

"Along with the rest of the solar industry, we follow where the incentives are," said Christina Skellenger, development manager for Gerding Edlen, which coordinated the Jersey Gardens project. "We probably do 50 to 75 percent of the work that we do in New Jersey."

With varying incentives in place through 2026, the state should see plenty of record-breaking projects, said Shayle Kann, managing director of solar for GTM Research, which analyzes the market.

"New Jersey's market is certainly more mature than any other state, other than California," Kann said. "Last year was a great year, (and) 2011, we also expect to be a very strong year in New Jersey."


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