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The Emerging Technology Option

An option for grantees implementing energy efficiency strategies includes new and emerging technology programs. An emerging technology is one that has already proven to be technically viable, but which has little or no operational experience. It can include an innovative application of an emerging technology that has not been generally utilized or that may be new to a particular region. In deciding on an energy efficiency strategy, grantees may look to best practices and examples for a new way to approach energy efficiency in rehabilitation.

One example is the Solar Weatherization Assistance Program (SWAP), a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). The goal of the program was to provide solar water heating systems for low-income residents in Florida. Very often, many northern weatherization measures are not cost effective in warmer climates. It made sense therefore, for Florida to take advantage of the abundant and renewable solar energy resource to help reduce energy costs in low-income residences. DCA provided grants to local Weatherization Assistance Program agencies and other non-profit agencies to operate the program, while SWAP-certified solar contractors provided installations.

The SWAP program indicated that substantial results in energy savings could be accrued from the use of low-cost solar water heating systems. The savings-to-investment ratio met WAP requirements. Low-income clients claimed that the savings from the solar system were immediately obvious. This program stands as an example of what solar thermal systems can accomplish. More information on the program is available on the SWAP website.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy also provides examples of programs that include leveraging state and private funds.