Space Probe Juno Provides Peek into Future of Solar in Granite State
CONCORD, N.H. – One way to look at the prospects for solar power in New England is to look to outer space and the Juno space probe now orbiting Jupiter.
New Hampshire may not be the state with the most sunshine in the nation, but it gets a whole lot more than the largest planet, Jupiter.
Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), says it sends a powerful message that Juno can get all of its energy from the sun, even though that far out in space the available sunlight is only 4 percent of what reaches earth.
"I think the Juno probe and its space panels is a nice illustration of the fact that solar power is present everywhere,” he states. “Of new energy installations in the U.S., more of them are going to be solar in 2016 than anything else."
While it fuels the space probe, Gallagher says the solar industry is also powering job growth on Earth.
According to his group, 209,000 Americans now work in the solar industry, which is more than double the number just six years ago.
SEIA says in New Hampshire, solar companies employ more than 750 workers.
Heather Fournier, a branch manager with ReVision Energy, says in addition to outer space, the Granite State can look to Germany to gain insight to the potential for solar energy.
She explains the cold winters in New Hampshire help solar equipment perform better than under hot conditions.
"So, Germany has a very progressive solar program,” she points out. “They sometimes can power their entire country just on solar energy alone. And we actually get about 30 to 33 percent more sunshine in New Hampshire than Germany, a year "
Last year, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed into law a measure (HB1116), which doubled the size of the state's net metering cap.
In the past, space probes had been powered by nuclear energy. Juno is the first to rely only on solar.