Friday, February 22, 2013

Bedford Becoming a Bright Spot for Solar Power Research

The past few year have seen a number of Solar Power R&D companies make the move to Bedford.

Spire Corporation provides equipment and technology to help companies manufacture solar panels.

Joule has developed a process to convert solar energy into liquid fuels such as diesel and ethanol. The company which has raised $110 Million, has recently opened a demonstration plant in New Mexico to commercialize the technology.

1366 Technologies has developed a more efficient process to manufacturer solar panels at significantly lower cost. The company which has raised over $80 Million from a combination of private investors and federal grants, recently moved to Bedford where is has just opened a demonstration plant.

What's interesting is that Massachusetts is one of the top states in terms of growth in both home solar systems and solar energy research. A good portion of the growth of home solar systems in Bedford appears to be a result of the no money down solar leasing programs while many of the solar energy companies have spun out of research at MIT and other local universities.

From a retail perspective, it's likely that the high percentage of new home solar systems being leased is precluding the need for a solar power consumer showroom in Bedford (with leasing most home owners don't get to pick out or design their system). It would be interesting for one of the Solar R&D companies in town to open up a small storefront showcasing their technology.

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