NJ & Solar Firsts Include Practical Solar Cell, Patent for Silicon Cell, Birth of Terrestrial Solar Industry, Solar Production Company
(SOMERSET) Senate Environment and Energy Chairman Bob Smith and Assembly Telecom & Utilities Chairman Upendra J. Chivukula recently pledged to keep solar shining in New Jersey as they received the inaugural Chapin, Fuller, Pearson Medal from the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA).
The medal is named after Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller and Gerald Pearson, the three scientists who invented the first practical solar cell in 1954 at the New Jersey based Bell Laboratories located in Murray Hill. It is awarded to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the development and advancement of solar power in the Mid-Atlantic Region and the nation.
The lawmakers were recognized for their contributions to powering the boom in the state’s solar industry with legislation to incentivize solar and for subsequently helping stabilize the market by sponsoring a landmark measure (A-2966S1925) which doubled the solar that power companies are required to produce or purchase under the state’s current Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
“The burgeoning growth in New Jersey’s solar industry which has propelled us to a national leader and generated thousands of green jobs is becoming increasingly important in light of global warming. The death and devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy proves just how dangerous our dependence on fossil fuels continues to be for the future of human civilization,” Smith (SomersetMiddlesex) said. “I am grateful for this award and to Assemblyman Chivukula and MSEIA for all of our joint efforts to promote solar in New Jersey,” he added.
“Less than a year ago, New Jersey’s solar industry was in danger of being eclipsed because of sliding SREC prices caused by a glut in production. Thousands of jobs were at risk. Hundreds of millions of dollars in ratepayer investment were in jeopardy. Small businesses were in trouble and the industry faced a major challenge. Working collectively with the industry, advocates and other stakeholders, we sponsored a groundbreaking measures so that solar is once again shining in New Jersey,” Chivukula (D-SomersetMiddlesex) said.
“I thank MSEIA for the great honor, especially since the medal is named after three eminent scientists who made a significant contribution to the development of solar energy and who worked at Bell Labs, where I also spent a few years as an engineer. I am grateful to Senator Smith for working collaboratively to craft the landmark solar bill that helped revive the industry. I dedicate this award to the ratepayers of New Jersey who have invested more than $360 million to keep solar shining in our state,” he added.
The measure Chivukula and Smith sponsored accelerated the carve-out for solar-generated electricity in order to absorb the overproduction that had led to a free fall in the price of SRECs and jeopardized the state’s solar industry. An SREC is a certificate for the production of every 1,000 kilowatt hours of solar energy that is subsequently delivered to the multi-state power grid. New Jersey is part of the PJM (Pennsylvania, Jersey, Maryland) grid comprising of 13 states. The solar RECs can be traded in the spot market to entities that need to purchase a minimum amount of energy from renewable sources to be in compliance with state law.
New Jersey recently became the first state in the nation to generate more than 1 percent of its annual electricity from solar energy and is rapidly moving towards 1.5 percent. A recent study shows that solar comes at a bargain, delivering more than a two to one return to ratepayers on their investment and at a value that exceeds its cost by 50 percent to more than 100 percent.
New Jersey is the nation’s second-largest solar market with 900 MW of solar capacity and the first in solar installations that have crossed the threshold of 16,000 panels.
“The innovation and determination shown by these two legislators have been instrumental in making New Jersey a leading state in the nation in the development of solar power,” said Dennis Wilson, president of MSEIA.
“New Jersey is beginning to rival California in the size of its solar market, and has created over 10,000 high‐quality jobs in system design, installation, roofing, electrical contracting and financial and legal services. Recognition is growing regarding solar power being a major contributor to the future mix of electric generation, and the preferred non‐polluting source of electricity, as well as a very large creator of jobs. These intrepid legislators had the foresight to forge a nation‐leading role for New Jersey,” he added.
New Jersey and solar have many firsts.
According to Lyle Rawlings, Vice‐President, New Jersey of MSEIA, “Most people are amazed when they hear how much of this burgeoning worldwide solar industry is based on developments that happened in New Jersey. Nearly all of the major achievements that brought this technology to life from 1940 through the early ‘70’s were accomplished here. But it shouldn’t be a surprise; the most prestigious laboratories in the world were located in New Jersey during that time. Now these two determined legislators have assumed that mantle of leadership and innovation, arguably doing more than any other state legislators in the country to advance the deployment of solar power.”