What’s next for solar?

This week’s episode of EnergyNOW! takes a look at the state of the solar industry post-Solyndra. It’s a great overview if you aren’t caught up on what’s happening, and it’s also refreshing to see a report on solar power that doesn’t get bogged down in the manufactured political debate over federal energy funding.

One of the success stories highlighted in the piece is the new solar array over the parking lot of the Cincinnati Zoo. Mark Fisher, the zoo’s facilities director, says the project overall provides about 20 percent of the and is important for its visibility to the 1.3 million visitors who use the parking lot each year.

More interesting though, is that on hot, sunny days, the solar array can actually provide all of the zoo’s power.

“On a day like today,” Fisher says, “every single building in the zoo is off the grid.”

The zoo buys the power for 10 cents per kWh from none other than Melink Corporation, a company that was profiled a couple of weeks ago by the NRDC’s Dylan Sullivan as “hiring like hot cakes.” The Milford, Ohio, based company has hired 30 people in the last six months.

Melink specializes in using renewable power and taking advantage of state and federal incentives to help companies save money on energy:

The third prong of its business—Melink’s eye on the future—is the development of renewable energy systems for companies and institutions, like the 1.5 megawatt solar canopy it built and opened this spring at the Cincinnati Zoo. “We provide financing, design,” Melink explains. “We’ll install it. We’ll even own it and operate it and sell the power back at a lower cost than the local utility.” If cloudy Germany, with less solar radiation than Ohio, can lead the world in installed solar capacity, Melink says, “we can create a market here in the Midwest.”

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