Personal Project Summary

Posted: December 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

I worked on this project as I wanted to understand the Indiana renewable energy market by contacting the people in the industry who are actually working towards developing and installing renewable technologies. This personal project helped me network with a lot of professionals in the Indiana Renewable Energy Industry and thus understand the present situation of the energy markets.

Indiana is mostly powered by coal and its coal power plants are one of the dirtiest in the nation. It is ranked as one of the least green states of USA. But it is the third fastest growing state in wind generation and ranks eleventh in the country. The solar energy development potential in Indiana is moderate, but the southern part of the state has an average of around 4.5 hours of sunlight throughout the year, thus there is scope. Indiana’s Solar Thermal Grant program, administered by the Office of Energy Development, has helped fund more than a dozen solar projects in the state.

I went through a lot of websites to find out the list of renewable firms in Indiana and the following were very useful.

Energy Source guides: http://energy.sourceguides.com/businesses/byGeo/US/byS/IN/byB/manufacturers/manufacturers.shtml

Energy Systems Network: http://www.energysystemsnetwork.com/

Office of Energy Development: http://www.in.gov/oed/

NRDC : http://www.nrdc.org/energy/renewables/indiana.asp

Indiana Renewable Energy Association: http://www.indianarenew.org/

I made a list of most of the renewable energy firms which develop and provide renewable energy to residents and communities, created a questionnaire and tried to contact most of them, but I was not very lucky. I realised that most of the firms do not respond to your emails and take your calls. The ones who responded to my emails and calls have been mentioned in my previous blogs. They had a very clear idea about what is going on in the market.

Conclusions:

The conclusions I could decipher from the responses I received are that all the firms firmly believe in sustainability. They have been working really hard to pass a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in Indiana which is one among only fourteen states which do not have it. Thus Indiana is at a great disadvantage for a new business investment.

The firms also make a point to educate the public about energy efficiency and renewable technologies, thus spreading awareness amongst people who have very less knowledge about the externalities of fossil fuel based generation such as climate change.

The costs involved in buying renewable energy products and technologies is very high, this is the biggest reason why small renewable firms find it hard to develop and market their products. Nobody wants to invest into an expensive solar panel system even if it provides free energy, as the pay back times are really large. Most of the firms believe that Indiana will not have a RES for a very long time. The state government does not provide any tax credit for any renewable technology, but there is a thirty percent tax credit through the federal government. One of the representatives of Phoenix Mechanical also mentioned that they could not sell even one solar heating system, even after starting their business in 2008.

In the field of bioenergy, as mentioned by a representative from Hoosier Energy, Indiana is already the 8th-largest biogas producer in the country. There is some limited expansion of landfill gas energy plants and there will be anaerobic digestion of manure on cattle and swine farms, but ethanol and biodiesel will continue to dominate in Indiana in the near future.

Thus I can summarize that the Indiana energy market has been very difficult for the renewable energy systems and high efficiency equipment, as there is a lot of resistance without any renewable energy credits. I hope this scenario changes in the future and Indiana joins the league of the greenest states in the country.

This project has been a great personal research, which I always wanted to perform, and has helped me develop my marketing and analytical skills. Overall, the whole process was a great learning experience.

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