Texas to fund half billion solar project

The Texas Senate approved a $500 million rebate scheme which householders and companies can use to install photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

The rebates, in a five year scheme which only remains to be approved by the state legislature, will provide up to 500 megawatts of electricity. Prices of the silicon needed to make photovoltaic panels have fallen, although systems are still expensive compared to other methods of generating electricity.

Excess electricity produced by the photo voltaic systems will be sold back to utility companies although the price at which it can be sold is not yet clear, and there are indications that it will be below the going market rate.

Other US states are also promoting solar energy including New Mexico, California and Arizona. 2007 figures for photovoltaic generation worldwide estimate that Germany is the leader, with 50% of installations, generating 3.8 gigawatts.

PV module prices have dropped by as much as 20 percent since the beginning of this year, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). But the credit crunch is inhibiting growth, with banks reluctant to fund large scale projects.