Kentucky’s climate is well suited for the use of solar technologies to generate electricity, in particular solar thermal to power solar water heating or space heating systems and solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity. Kentucky averages 4.5 hours of sunlight per day. By comparison, Florida averages only slightly more at 5.3 hours per day. (Renewable Resource Data Center).
Solar Water Heating (SWH) Systems
Solar hot water heating systems are cost effective in Kentucky at today’s energy prices, meaning that they can pay for themselves in a reasonable amount of time. A $500 state tax credit can be applied to the installation of a solar hot water heater. Low interest loans are available for the installation of solar hot water systems to households in some eastern Kentucky counties.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels
Kentucky could make much greater use of PV panels to generate electricity and create jobs. Germany leads the world in installed solar PV capacity, despite having solar resources similar to Alaska’s and weaker than Kentucky’s.
A German government report found that an active solar market supports 30 jobs for every megawatt of solar photovoltaics installed. That would be 30,000 jobs for 1,000 megawatts of solar PV. Other studies have found 15 – 30 direct jobs created per megawatt, and another 3.5 indirect and induced jobs created for every direct job created. The result in Germany has been a renewable energy sector supporting 280,000 workers.
Reports and Resources
American Solar Energy Society. "Tackling Climate Change" (2007): www.ases.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=838&Itemid=58.
Appalachia — Science in the Public Interest “Kentucky Solar Energy Guide” (October 2006): http://kysolar.org/ky_solar_energy_guide.
Carson Lambert, Susan. "Renewable Energy Resources Inventory in Kentucky." Available by clicking here.
Kentucky Rural Energy Consortium. "25 x '25 Roadmap for Kentucky" (2008). louisville.edu/kppc/krec contains a link the report.