Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in Delaware

Delaware’s industrial sector is the largest consumer of electricity in the state due to a number of energy-intensive industries such as chemical plants, a major petroleum refinery and a number of large manufacturers. As well, its entire transportation sector is petroleum fuel dependent. It was estimated that each citizen uses approximately 7.4 gallons of oil each day. In the last few years, Delaware has made an increasingly large effort to move away from their complete dependence on fossil fuels and employ more energy efficient measures while also utilizing sources of renewable energy.

1) Renewable Energy Businesses in Delaware. Delaware is home to a large number of renewable energy businesses that work on regional, national, and international levels. There is the Institute of Energy Conversion, which is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to the research and development of thin-film photovoltaic cells. Modern Earth Inc. designs, manufactures, and sells solar modular homes that provide solar power, solar venting, and solar heating. Then there is Sanmak Solar Systems, an engineering and installation company that performs energy audits for businesses and homes and then offers a comprehensive plan to make necessary energy efficient improvements to your home.

2) Financial Incentives for Businesses and Homeowners for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. The state of Delaware has created a number of financial incentives to make it easier for businesses and homes to become more energy efficient and use renewable sources of energy. This includes state grant programs, such as Research and Development Grants and Technology and Demonstration Grants, as well as a Non-Residential Efficiency Plus Financing Program, a number of state rebate programs through the Sustainable Energy Utility company, including Efficiency Plus Homes and Non-Residential Efficiency Plus Rebate Program, and a number of utility rebate programs.

3) Delaware Green Energy Program. The Delaware Green Energy Program offers cash incentives to citizens of Delaware who are looking to install renewable energy systems. To participate in the Delaware Green Energy Program, citizens need to install the system of their choosing and their electricity utility company must have a program for it. The participating utilities include Delmarva Power, Delaware Electric Cooperative, and Municipal Power and the program covers photovoltaic systems, solar water heating systems, geothermal systems, and wind turbine installers.

4) Delaware Renewable Energy Task Force. Created by Bill 119, the Delaware Renewable Energy Task Force offers recommendations to the state government on how to establish trading mechanisms for renewable energy as well as other structures that will support the development and growth of renewable energy throughout the state of Delaware. It is supported by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Energy Office.

5) Renewable Energy Relief Program. Since 1999, Delaware has offered a number of incentives for individuals who elected to install geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, and solar water heating pumps in an effort to lower fossil fuel dependence. However, after awhile, the state was no longer able to afford the incentives. After the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Delaware reinstated their Renewable Energy Relief Program throughout the state to support renewable energy and energy efficiency, decrease pollution, and create new employment opportunities. To receive money, you need to install an energy system after April of 2009, have an energy audit performed, and install a minimum of $500 in recommended energy efficiency improvements.

6) 2010 Update on Energy Bills. In the summer of 2010, the governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, signed four renewable energy bills that were created in an effort to grow the solar and wind power industries within the state. A number of new incentives were created to attract new investment opportunities into these industries. Incentives are also offered to solar designers, manufacturers, and installation companies. Renewable sources of energy are promoted, including the possibility of constructing a large wind park right off the coast of the state. Collin O’Mara, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said, “More than 95 percent of Delaware’s electricity comes from fossil fuels with 70 percent from coal-burning power plants. These green energy bills will help the state transition at a faster rate to renewable energy. We can dramatically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels in the next 15 years and more closer to the healthy environment and green economy we want in Delaware.”

7) Delaware Technology Park. The Delaware Technology Park is a nonprofit research park that offers a number of industries, including renewable energy companies access to the necessary connections and resources required to accelerate their overall economic success. The Delaware Technology Park has assisted more than 75 companies in growing their business, and as such, has created over 15,000 new jobs throughout the state. Some renewable energy companies that have come out of the park include Standard Solar, which built the largest single solar rooftop installation in the state, NRG-Bluewater Wind, and Blue Hen Wind and Gamesa Technology Corporation.

8 ) Deleware Allows for Net Metering. In 2010 Governor of Delaware, Markell, signed an energy bill that strengthened the net metering law by boosting the total quantity of energy customers are able to sell back to the electric supply grid they are connected to. With this law, businesses and homes are able to sell back up to 110 percent of their aggregate consumption to their grid. As well, business campuses and agricultural operations are able to aggregate a number of meters for several locations in an effort to determine the total sum of power may be resold through one meter. By doing this, customers will have the opportunity to finance much larger renewable energy installations that will meet their increasing needs. Homeowner associations and other similar groups are able to cooperatively finance and create community-scale renewable energy projects on and off site.

9) Partnership between National Renewable Energy Laboratory and University of Delaware to Develop Offshore Wind Energy Research Site. In 2010, a partnership between the University of Delaware and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory was created to develop an offshore wind energy research site approximately three miles off the coast of the state. The research site would enable companies to trial and test new wind technologies before setting it to market. State environmental chief, O’Mara stated that the joint partnership would create not only a near-shore research and development park, but also a rigorous facility for testing. It will provide major economic benefits for Delaware and assist in growing its alternative energy technology center.

10) Delaware Created 41 Block Grants for Solar Projects. In 2011, the governor of Delaware and the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced a number of new energy efficiency block grants, which includes a number of grants for photovoltaic projects in Sussex County. The grants receive support from the Delaware Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. The money comes from what has been set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The supported projects are said to save the Delaware counties $365,000 in yearly energy costs.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at

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