2015 was the biggest year in recent memory for the U.S. solar industry. In this post, we highlight the top three things that made 2015 so significant, plus three things that EnergySage is looking forward to in 2016.
Landmark moments for solar in 2015
More solar was installed than in any previous year. GTM Research estimates that 7.4 GW of solar were installed in 2015. That’s more than any previous year on record, and up 19 percent over 2014.
Congress extended the federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar. The ITC, which allows owners of solar energy systems to reduce the cost of their systems by 30 percent, was originally going to expire at the end of 2016. The recent extension maintains ITC availability through 2022, enabling homeowners and businesses alike to continue to go solar at more affordable rates.
195 countries came together and signed the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. The agreement sets a goal of limiting global temperature increases to 2°C and directs countries to immediately begin greenhouse gas emissions reductions efforts. Many are viewing the deal as a signal to markets that will prompt a shift away from fossil fuels like oil and gas, and towards renewable energy resources like solar.
What to expect for solar in 2016
The U.S. will reach a new solar milestone: one million solar homes. Industry experts believe that in early 2016 the U.S. will witness the installation of its millionth residential solar energy system. As solar installations become more commonplace, the impact of peer effects will become more pronounced – meaning that more homeowners will see solar on neighboring rooftops, and begin exploring their own installation options.
Solar will become mainstream in 2016. The extension of the solar ITC has given the market greater certainty, leading to more investment in long-term growth: new factories will be built, companies will start to hire more workers, and more utilities will begin exploring solar. Solar is becoming a viable, mainstream energy resource, and both consumers and corporations now recognize it.
The cost of going solar will drop, and consumer options will grow. Equipment, financing, and installer options are increasing, which means greater choice and more competitive prices for consumers. Most solar shoppers are receiving two to three quotes from solar companies before making their purchase decision, and as the market grows in 2016, more companies will enter and price their offerings competitively. For consumers, there has never been a better time to start thinking about going solar.