It was an exciting week as the solar industry reveled in the latest booming figures from the record year for the U.S. market in 2016. A report that shows solar leases don’t impact home values, figures from solar’s record year in 2016 and the new prospect of universities powered 100 percent by solar are the key headlines we’re discussing from this week’s Solar News Report.
New report shows solar leases don’t lower property values
A new report out of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL) this week unveiled a key finding: homeowners with leased solar systems do not see a property value decrease or increase when reselling their homes. This finding is noteworthy because homeowners have historically been hesitant to sign solar lease agreements due to the uncertainty about future property value and ability to resell.
This study confirms that third party solar options certainly do not hinder the value of a property. However, when paired with reports demonstrating that homeowners who own their solar systems actually increase property values, this study reaffirms a trend in residential solar away from lease offers towards ownership options. When you consider that the federal tax credit for solar only applies to those that buy their system, one thing is clear: solar makes the most sense when homeowners buy rather than rent.
U.S. solar market has record year, nearly doubles capacity
A new report from SEIA and GTM Research heralded even more momentum for U.S. solar after revealing that the industry as a whole nearly doubled in installed capacity in 2016. Growth is clearly strong and falling prices indicate that it will continue. Last year the cost of solar dropped by nearly 20% – the biggest year over year price drop on record since GTM’s reporting began for the U.S. market. The data from this recent report has led to the following projection: the U.S. PV industry as a whole is expected to triple in size over the next 5 years. “Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country, and job numbers soared,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of SEIA. “It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry.”
Canadian energy behemoth acquires Maryland solar installer
Gaz Metro, a $5.8 billion utility owner and Canadian energy supplier, finalized an acquisition of Maryland solar contractor Standard Solar this week. Though Gaz Metro is firmly established in Canada as the largest natural gas provider in Quebec, it also has strong coverage in the northeast U.S. One of its assets is Green Mountain Power, an acclaimed Vermont utility known for promoting renewable energy solutions through its 30 megawatts of solar farms installed to date and solar plus storage offerings available to its customers.
Now, Gaz Metro adds another solar subsidiary to its portfolio with Standard Solar, a major player in the U.S. commercial solar sector with service in eight of the top U.S. solar states as well as Washington D.C. “This acquisition reflects Gaz Metro’s willingness to increase its presence in the renewable energy segment while growing its current business operations,” said Sophie Brochu, CEO of Gaz Metro. “With Standard Solar’s expertise and existing platforms, as well as our company’s long-term growth strategy, we are poised for success in the U.S.”
New Environment America report shows universities are key to U.S. solar growth
Something that many have hypothesized for some time was confirmed this week by a report by Environment America: mass solar adoption by universities is crucial for solar’s growth going forward. The report considered various ways for universities to reach the goal of becoming carbon neutral and determined that solar is the best solution. The report outlines that colleges and universities will be key for future growth of PV in the U.S. over the next decade and offered these three reasons for why solar is a perfect fit for a college or university in 2017:
- Colleges/universities have large flat roof space, ample ground space and large parking lots that can support large solar arrays, ground mount installations and large solar canopies
- Solar allows a college or university to hedge against rising electricity costs and save money on operations
- Universities and colleges are seen as leaders in innovation and thus benefit from improved credibility when they source their power from renewables
“By adopting plans for a rapid and steady shift to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, America’s colleges and universities can play a vital role in the country’s efforts to reduce climate-altering carbon pollution,” said Rob Sargent, energy director for Environment America. “As influential institutions in their communities, they can set an example while conducting the research we need and training the clean energy practitioners of the future.”