As the #YearofSolar continues, many exciting announcements about new funding initiatives are rolling in. IRENA’s $46 million investment in solar for developing nations as well as a new effort by the Department of Energy to strengthen solar storage technologies are two leading headlines from this week’s Solar Energy News.
With the New Year underway and strong momentum into 2016, the solar industry is poised for impressive growth. Record-breaking conversion efficiency, potential state tax credit extensions in New Mexico and bold predictions from market insiders are the solar headlines that you need to know about in this week’s Solar Energy News.
Last week, the NC Clean Energy Technology Center at NC State University, a partner in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), released a report ranking America’s largest cities according to the financial value solar offers residential customers in those cities. Today, the Center released its customer-facing companion report,“Going Solar in America: Ranking Solar’s Value to Consumers in America’s Largest Cities”, which, in addition to explaining the results of the analysis delivered in the previous report, dives into the different policy, incentive, and financing options available to customers considering solar.
Highlights of the customer-facing report include:
1. According to data shared with us by EnergySage, the leading online marketplace for solar, total installed solar PV system prices have declined from $10/W in the late 1990s by 60% to less than $4/W nationwide on average in the 3rd Quarter of 2014. Continue reading
As a result of solar PV cost declines, rising utility rates, and supportive public policies and incentives, residential rooftop solar PV has become an affordable option for millions of customers, especially in America’s 50 largest cities. This is especially true if customers have the ability to access low-cost financing options like longer-term loans, leases, and third-party power purchase agreements (PPAs) that eliminate the upfront cost. Thus, the availability of solar PV (and other ways to more efficiently use energy) has caused many customers to seek their own degree of personal “energy independence” by focusing on ways they can diversify their energy choices and exert greater control over their utility bills.
However, most of the customers who want a greater degree of personal energy independence (and the community leaders who wish to help them get there) often do not understand (or are simply unaware) of how solar PV technology can help them save money and reap the rewards of a largely risk-free long-term investment. Often, the lack of familiarity most customers have with solar PV has the effect of increasing the costs (often called “customer acquisition costs”) that solar PV installers must incur to educate consumers and make a sale. When one considers that selling more PV systems is how solar installers can reduce their other costs and make their businesses leaner, more competitive, and cost-effective without incentives, educating customers and community leaders about the “dollars and cents” value of solar PV truly is paramount. Continue reading
Through its Sunshot Initiative, the Department of Energy is working with the solar industry to make solar more cost competitive with other forms of energy (without subsidies). They’re aiming to cut 75 percent of the total costs of solar photovoltaic energy systems by 2020. The DOE has set $1 per watt for the total system as its target price which is about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Last month was a big one for EnergySage! The U.S. Department of Energy invested half a million dollars in EnergySage’s vision of making clean energy easy and accessible. And, while it is great news for us, we think it’s great news for consumers, installers, contractors, advocacy groups, and the solar PV industry, too. Continue reading
Many people looking into solar energy or other sources of renewable energy express concern about the payback period. It’s a common response. Recently, a friend’s 97 year-old grandfather balked at the price of a new battery for his car. As the salesman rattled off all of the batteries many features and benefits, Grandpa stopped him at the 7 year warranty. “I’m 97! What do I need a 7 year warranty for?” Wondering whether or not we’ll still be around to reap all the benefits of any particular deal is a universal reaction, especially when it comes to clean energy. Continue reading