Although this past week saw a number of exciting developments in the solar industry, two words were spotlighted in every major headline in solar: Elon Musk. Tesla Motors’ possible acquisition of SolarCity, the projection for sixfold growth of solar by 2030 and news of regional installers’ growth outpacing the top solar companies are the leading stories from this week’s Solar Energy News report.
Musktopia Expands: Tesla Announces Potential Acquisition of SolarCity
Ripples were felt across the electric, solar and automobile industries this week after news of Tesla’s proposed acquisition of SolarCity surfaced early Tuesday morning. This integration would bring together two of Elon Musk’s most successful ventures, SolarCity and Tesla Motors, both leading brands and innovators in their respective clean energy industries. For SolarCity investors, this is a promising development, and SolarCity’s stock value shot up throughout the week. According to Musk, bringing the two companies together would allow the process of “going solar” and “going electric” to become a barrier-free, fully integrated experience in which a homeowner can decimate his or her carbon footprint by signing on the dotted line. In 2016, installing a solar system or buying an electric car is no longer enough to wear the badge of honor associated with being a “green household.” Thus, the next step for Musk: to make his last name a synonymous connotation for the integrated process of the two.
Regional Installers Outpacing Growth of Largest Solar Companies
There is a lot of debate in the solar industry on whether to go with a local installer or a large solar leasing company when considering a residential solar installation. According to a new report, recent growth has been trending in favor of smaller residential solar companies over big providers with a dramatic disparity in the most recent quarter. The simple explanation: as solar adoption spreads across the U.S., regional installers are capitalizing on interest from homeowners and starting to edge out SolarCity, Sunrun and Vivint Solar, the current top three solar companies in the country. The peak market share for the top three big companies was 53.4 percent back in 2014. Since then, it has gradually dropped to its current status at 47.5 percent, with regional installers picking up the rest.
Solar PV Forecasted to Grow Sixfold by 2030
An emerging observation has been grabbing headlines in the past few weeks and more stakeholders are beginning to agree: solar could be the world’s most reliable energy resource in a matter of decades. In line with this consensus was a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which declared this week that solar would become the world’s cheapest energy source and forecasted PV to see sixfold growth in the next 14 years. As of the end of 2015, solar accounted for 1.3 percent of the world’s energy consumption. IRENA expects that number to increase to a level somewhere between eight and 13 percent as soon as 2030. Additionally, the cost of solar will likely continue its deep dive – a 59 percent decrease in price is expected as soon as 2025.
Solar Impulse Completes Daring Atlantic Crossing
The first solar-powered aircraft’s iconic journey around the globe has included been a number of intimidating legs that required the plane to sustain flight for days at a time across oceans with nothing but sunlight to keep it in the air. This past week, Solar Impulse completed its last major over-ocean trip, landing in Seville, Spain early Thursday morning. Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard piloted the most recent crossing and will lead the photovoltaic aircraft to its final destination of Abu Dhabi, where the plane’s journey around the world began. “Everybody has tried to cross the Atlantic, with sailboats, steamboats, airships, airplanes, even rowing boats and kitesurfs,” said Piccard in a statement following his arrival at Seville’s airport. “Today, it’s a solar-powered airplane for the first time ever, flying electric with no fuel and no pollution.”