2016 is poised to be the best year yet for solar. At some time during the next few months, the U.S. will reach a milestone of one million solar homes, and industry experts predict that this solar momentum will continue throughout the year. If you’ve been thinking about installing a solar energy system, 2016 is the year to go for it. Read on to find out why we’re now beginning the Year of Solar.
Solar energy is more accessible than ever in 2016
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research are predicting that the costs of going solar will continue to drop in 2016, while electricity prices are going to continue to increase. Lower costs mean that it will take even less time for consumers to achieve payback on their solar investment, and in 2015, the average national payback period for solar shoppers in the EnergySage Online Solar Marketplace was just 7.5 years! Solar panels generate electricity for 25 to 35 years, and a shorter payback period means you benefit from more free electricity over the lifetime of your solar energy system.
Experts agree that low-cost solar financing options are necessary to support homeowners installing solar. In 2016, it’s becoming easier than ever to access solar financing, thanks to new state-level initiatives like Massachusetts’ Mass Solar Loan program. Programs like Mass Solar Loan offer low-interest fixed-term solar loans to homeowners, and sometimes offer additional support to solar shoppers who meet particular income requirements.
Government support for solar power is at its peak
Two significant events at the end of 2015 signaled increased government support for renewable energy, setting the stage for 2016 to become the Year of Solar.
As part of its 2016 spending bill, Congress approved an extension of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy. The credit, which was originally set to expire in December 2016, enables property owners to deduct 30 percent of the cost of going solar from their taxes. Now, in a demonstration of bipartisan support for solar, Congress has extended the 30 percent credit through 2019. After 2019, the credit will be incrementally reduced on an annual basis until 2022. In total, that’s a six-year extension!
The extension of the ITC benefits the whole country, not just solar buyers. According to SEIA, the extension of the ITC will add 220,000 new jobs in the U.S. solar industry and result in a $133 billion investment in the U.S. economy between now and 2020. Additionally, GTM Research predicts that there will be 54 percent more solar installed over the next five years due to the extension. Lastly, thanks to the ITC, the U.S. will reach 100 gigawatts of solar by 2020 – that’s enough to power 20 million homes.
But it’s not just the U.S. Congress that recognizes the importance of clean, sustainable energy sources like solar. In December 2015, 195 nations came together at the United Nations and signed the Paris Agreement, a landmark climate accord that sets a global goal of limiting global temperature increases by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the aftermath, solar company stock values soared and oil and gas stocks fell, highlighting the global trend of the 21st century: the era of renewable energy is here, and it’s time to get on board.
Industry growth means more companies are competing for your business
With prices dropping and government support for solar growing, more companies are going to enter the solar market in 2016 to take advantage of increased demand. Increased supply is good news for consumers: solar companies competing for your business results in a better solar value for your money!
When you get quotes from multiple solar companies at once, you can compare them side-by-side and feel confident that you’ve found the right combination of equipment, financing, and installer options. EnergySage is the best place to start: you can use our Solar Calculator to get an instant estimate of how much solar can save you, or register your property to compare multiple offers from pre-screened solar installers at no cost.
Thanks to this perfect storm of falling costs and increased government support, there’s no question that 2016 is the Year of Solar. If you’ve ever considered solar, there is no better time than the present to start exploring your solar options.