Solar News: Solar Tracking Gains Huge Popularity, Tesla/SolarCity Decision Expected on November 18th

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solar panel tracking mount
This ground mount solar installation has tracking capability that allows it to track the sun as it moves during the day.

The past week in the solar industry, like many that came before it, can only be described with one word: optimistic. A promising emissions report thanks to significant growth from solar and wind, growing customer preference for tracking systems that improve the efficiency of solar systems, and a new community solar program in Missouri are three bright headlines we’re talking about from this week’s Solar Energy News report.

Solar Track Mounting Sees Major Growth in 2016

One of the most effective add-on products available for solar are tracking mounts. Trackers allow panels to maximize electricity production by following the sun as it moves across the sky. The tracking systems, which are typically only used with ground mounted solar, tilt and adjust the angle of a solar array as the day goes by to reflect the sun’s location.

Though this product has been available for some time, solar developers are really starting to take advantage in 2016. GTM Research released a report this past week that shows a major upward trend in the installation of tracking mounts for solar. GTM is forecasting a 254 percent year-over-year increase in growth for the PV tracking market this year. The report reveals that by 2021, nearly half of all ground mount installations will include solar tracking capability.

Missouri Makes Strong Entry into Community Shared Solar

Community solar continues to gain attention across the U.S., and Missouri made headlines this week as a notable community solar partnership went live. The state will look to leverage its largest utility, Ameren, whose first community solar array was approved late last week. Currently, much of Missouri relies on coal as a primary source of power, but the state is working to transition towards solar power.

Ameren’s first solar garden will offer 500 kilowatts of power to qualifying small business and residential customers. It was just one year ago that Missouri approved its very first community solar garden, a 100 kW system, so it’s safe to say that this latest utility partnership should have a big impact in mobilizing the Show Me State towards clean energy.

DOE’s New Report Shows Optimistic Renewables and Emissions Forecast

A new report from the U.S. Department of Energy this month revealed that costs for clean technologies have fallen by as much as 94% over the past seven years. There were two clear leaders in the reported success of renewables: wind and solar, which collectively accounted for two-thirds of new energy installations in the U.S. last year. In addition to the DOE’s research, the Energy Information Administration, another government entity, just released a report confirming that U.S. emissions in the first half of 2016 will be the lowest since 1991. These data are a very reassuring indicator that the expanding clean energy economy can have a quick and meaningful effect in reducing carbon emissions.

Musk Awaits Tesla’s Merger Outcome, Slated for November 17

The past few months have been a rollercoaster for the solar industry. All eyes are on Elon Musk and his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive as stakeholders await the decision of Tesla’s proposed acquisition of SolarCity. For Musk, the merger is a no-brainer, but for the majority of Tesla Motors’ other board members and executives, the decision is far from simple. SolarCity has struggled in the recent year – stagnant growth and a drop off in bookings led the installer giant to announce major layoffs last month. Goldman Sachs devalued Tesla’s stock last week from “Buy” to “Neutral,” citing issues with capital management for the clean autos behemoth amidst the merger. Now, the pressure is on for Tesla’s board of directors.

This week, Tesla and SolarCity announced that shareholders will submit their final vote on the merger by November 18, giving industry stakeholders and press a hard deadline for the highly anticipated decision. Some analysts are speculating that the deadline is strategically timed to occur after the U.S. presidential election, while others expect the timing was purposely slated to follow Tesla’s October 28 product launch for its new solar roof product. Musk will hope to wow investors with a demonstrative synergy of clean technologies. Board members will need some convincing.

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