Delaware-based Cermet Materials manufactures screen-printable conductive pastes for the thin-film photovoltaic (PV) industry. Several of the company’s employees are also local volunteer firefighters. So, when Cermet Materials owners Charlie Falletta and Pansy Tong were approached by their employees about financing a solar energy system for their local volunteer fire department, the project must have seemed like a no-brainer.

Working with Cermet Materials, the Belvedere Fire Company in Wilmington now hosts a 50-kilowatt (kW) PV system. The system will generate 65,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, and offset 44.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. It is estimated to meet about one-third of the facility’s electricity demand, saving the fire station approximately $400,000 in energy costs over the lifetime of the system.

belvedere ribbon cutting
image via Delaware Department of Natural Resources

“We are committed to the solar industry, and to supporting the use and growth of solar as a clean, renewable power source,” said Cermet Materials owner Charlie Falletta. “This project also allowed us to help out a volunteer group that provides a vital public service to the residents of Wilmington.”

The project was installed by Newark-based KW Solar Solutions. The system’s 208 240-watt solar panels were manufactured in Newark by Motech Americas. Other system components were purchased through United Electric, a Delaware-based electrical supply company in New Castle.

In addition to the funds provided by Cermet Materials, the project also received a $68,400 grant from the Delaware Green Energy Program, administered by the DNREC Division of Energy and Climate. The entire project cost $273,951.

Since 1999, DNREC said, the Green Energy Program has supported Delaware homeowners, businesses and non-profit organizations in installing more than 1,000 renewable energy projects in the state. Projects have included a range of technologies, such as solar, geothermal and wind.

Delaware solar power, Dover SUN Park
image via U.S. Senator Tom Carper

Delaware is one of the smallest U.S. states, but its renewable energy market is far from minuscule. Last year, the City of Dover unveiled its 10-megawatt (MW) Dover SUNPark—the state’s largest PV system. Delaware has also become something of a hotbed for solar energy research. The University of Delaware scored big in the last round of SunShot funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, raking in five grants and a subcontract worth a combined $9.1 million.

The state is also considered to have significant offshore wind resources, though it has had a bit of a bumpy ride so far. Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), slated a site off the coast of Delaware to be the location of the first commercial offshore wind farm in the U.S. NRG Energy subsidiary Bluewater Wind even went so far as to secure a power purchase agreement for the 450-megawatt (MW) proposed Mid-Atlantic Wind Park with Delaware utility Delmarva Power & Light.

Bluewater’s inability to find an investor for the Wind Park, however, prompted the company to terminate the agreement and put the project on hold late last year.