The future of solar energy in the United States isn’t solely dependent on technological innovation. While advancements in photocell capacities will certainly play a significant part in solar reaching its tremendous potential, many other factors play critical roles in the future adoption levels of solar energy technologies.
Although not as often discussed as the innovations that propel the industry, policymakers at the state and federal levels of government play an equally important role in determining the future popularity of solar systems.
Tax reform and overhaul were primary talking points throughout last year’s presidential campaigns. While legislation has yet to introduce which particular aspects of our tax code due for overhaul, it’s safe to assume that itemized deductions and various tax incentives will play a pivotal role in the process.
Of course, tax incentives have become synonymous with solar energy systems at both the individual consumer and business levels. Redefining any such incentives could very well have a significant impact on the overall adoption rates of new solar systems. As important as climate issues are to the majority of Americans, affordability will always be a critical concern in the overall viability of solar energy.
To put it more concisely, tax breaks make solar technologies more affordable. Losing tax incentives will have an obvious effect on the popularity of solar systems going forward. Although the current solar tax incentive is not due to sunset until 2022, the forward-looking nature of the marketplace will have an immediate impact if similar incentives are not carried further into the future.
Over the last two decades, renewable energies have relied on substantial government subsidies to fund technological innovation. However, given the current political landscape, it is incumbent on the solar industry to prove it can provide a cost-effective solution that serves as an economically viable alternative to our standard electricity providers.
This very notion represents a conundrum of sorts since lower costs are dependent on technological advancements that, paradoxically, are themselves dependent on further funding. In other words, the solar industry is largely dependent on government subsidies to drive innovations that will continue to make it more affordable for the average consumer. However, those government subsidies will likely be dependent on the industry’s ability to bring costs down. A cut in such subsidies will have a sudden and lasting impact on the research solar relies on to continually evolve.
The Bottom Line
Although domestic policy will always have a substantial impact on adoption rates due to tax incentives and federal subsidies, there’s no doubt that solar energy technology is already deeply rooted. While affordability measures might vary according to the leanings from Washington, individuals, families and companies alike will continue to seek eco-friendly solutions for their energy needs. Golden Solar will likewise continue to offer those very solutions for our neighbors throughout Colorado.
Solar energy is often viewed as a new, innovative technology, but the truth is, it has been utilized by humans for thousands of years.
Although it was once a niche within the market, solar energy is now the future. Whether you are interested in conservation or want to save money, solar power is for everyone.
Considering approximately 75 million barrels of oil could be saved annually through the use of solar energy, the savings are hard to ignore. Consumers are beginning to take notice — and this is just the beginning. Residents and businesses across the globe are making the switch. Here are three reasons why.
1. The Demand Is Already Significantly Increasing
Solar energy is currently one of the highest growing sectors within the United States and for good reason. In 2013, the demand for solar power has increased by an incredible 41 percent across the nation, with residential projects jumping a whopping 60 percent over the year prior.
In fact, in 2013, the number of photovoltaic panels that were installed provided enough power for more than 3.5 million homes — not to mention the use of solar power across major corporations. Companies such as Apple continue to invest in solar energy because they have witnessed first-hand its capabilities in terms of performance and cost.
2. It Is Renewable and Environmentally Friendly
As the world becomes more mindful of the environment, consumers and businesses are taking the initiative required to reduce their carbon footprint. By investing in solar energy, you can be a part of something greater and help offset CO2 emissions by eliminating the use of non-clean energy sources like coal.
To put this into perspective, the average solar-energy system (approximately 7.5 kW within the state of Colorado) generates power for 25-plus years that will offset 120 tons of CO2. This is, equivalent to planting over 1,250 trees or recycling 40 tons of waste.
Because it is 100 percent sustainable and comes from an inexhaustible energy source, solar energy is a long-term solution to our growing power needs. Unlike coal and natural gas, which are limited in supply, the sun’s consistent energy can be converted into heat, electricity, water, and even air conditioning, providing a reliable source, for industry, homes, and businesses.
3. It Is Low Maintenance and Cost-Effective
Electricity prices have continued to steadily rise, making consumers warm to the idea of solar power. Based on the increased demand, more solar panels are being produced, reducing the cost significantly in the past decade or so. Also, with no moving parts, there is very little maintenance involved once installation is complete.
Best of all, for those who invest in solar energy, the federal government will provide a solar tax credit. Allowing consumers to deduct 30 percent of the installation cost from their federal taxes, this financial benefit applies to both commercial and residential solar systems. There are also additional incentives and rebates available, making solar energy an attractive choice for communities across the globe.
The sun is like one big battery for us all to share. It provides the energy of the people. With so many reasons to say ‘yes’ to this renewable source of power, it’s clear that the future is certainly bright.
Free electricity sounds great, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, solar power has been around much longer than you may think. And with time and technology, has improved and is now becoming more popular because of its availability. In fact, last year solar power installments broke records by doubling over the previous year.
According to energy.gov, Since 2008, U.S. installations approximately 5.7 million American homes have received power from the 1.2 GW installations. Two years ago, Google launched their program – Project Sunroof – and researched the viability of solar panels. Their findings indicated more than 75% of US rooftops are viable for solar. And, in 2014, Forbes reported a savings of as much as $84 per month on your electric bill with the use of solar energy (not to mention reducing your household’s carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year).
Additionally, as solar and renewable energy has transformed and evolved, so has the price has gone down, as well as accessibility. Combine that with available tax credits and incentives, the leap to solar may not be as long and hard as you believe.
One great aspect of solar energy conversion is that it does not have to be a complete conversion. It can be installed on large or small scales so you have room to expand as you want. Testing the waters may be the thing to help you determine if you want to do a full conversion or not, but by most accounts, investing in solar energy for your home has increased the resale value of homes and returned the amount of the investment, plus the money saved on monthly power bills.
Decriers of climate change sometimes admonish solar on principle without considering the cost-savings. Solar is not just about energy efficiency or carbon footprints. It is also about the bottom line.
Considering the market growth in solar, new innovations and advances in technology, along with the exponential growth and transformation of solar power, this market is not likely to go anywhere. Rather, it is projected to evolve and expand.
Stay tuned to Golden Solar for more industry news and tips to go solar.
Power outages in the Caribbean and North America often leave millions of people stranded in the dark. Extreme weather is playing a major role in the frequency of these outages. Hurricanes and ice storms, including poor grid infrastructure cause problems. People living outside urban areas are worst affected by poor grid performance.
The Caribbean region has a population of about 40 million living in approximately 7,000 islands. At least 28 countries are part of the regional bloc and they are dealing with the effects of climate change. The Caribbean is bearing the brunt through increased exposure to natural disasters.
Role of Alternative Power Sources
Most people in the Caribbean region rely on generators as an emergency power source. The units are available at an affordable price, thus enabling wider use. However, the cost of running the generators is significantly higher. For this reason, many households run the generators for brief periods in the morning and evening only.
Generators operate using various fuel sources, including liquid natural gas, gasoline or propane. This translates to an additional cost for households. The unavailability of fuel, particularly in lengthy outages can leave families in the dark. As a result, the utility of the equipment becomes limited to short-term power blackouts. On the other hand, entry-level units generate considerable noise and may require large storage space.
Benefits of Solar-plus Storage Systems
The popularity of residential solar PV systems is growing in the Caribbean and North America. Households are leveraging low-cost benefits and the availability of new financing models to reduce exposure to the increasing cost of electricity. New technology enables users to combine the solar PV asset with an on-site energy storage system.
The configuration allows the solar PV asset to act as a backup power system when the grid power is down. The battery storage system creates an island as the power generation transfers to the solar PV array. A protected loads panel regulates the PV power based on the household’s essential energy requirements. The panel’s load management role ensures optimal energy consumption, battery performance (state of charge) and solar PV power production.
Optimization creates a backup power source that is efficient and reliable. Unlike fuel-powered generators, solar-plus provides constant power. A residential energy storage system produces zero emission, noise and does not need maintenance or fuel.
These systems require minimal space in primary and secondary living settings. They can be installed indoors or outdoors. The form factor of newer, integrated lithium batteries is aesthetically pleasing than conventional lead-acid batteries.
The cost of batteries has depreciated in recent years, thus making residential energy storage systems a more attractive and practical power source for households. The systems come with lengthy warranties of up to 10 years, longer working life (20 years or more) and a tight form factor. The systems have a low failure rate and operating costs and the installation process is non-intrusive.
The world’s largest consumer of electricity, China also has recently become the world’s biggest producer of photovoltaic cells for solar power. Recent strides are not without challenges, though, and the country remains far from being fossil-fuel free.
2017 Production Surges
In the first half of 2017, China’s solar industry produced 25.9 percent more solar panels than it had during the first half of 2017, for a total of 34 gigawatts this year versus 27 gigawatts during the same period in 2016, according to the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA).
Official data published by the National Energy Administration (NEA) shows that 24.4 gigawatts of solar panels were installed during the first six months of the year. This represents an annual increase of nine percent from the prior year. In June alone, 13.5 gigawatts were added, representing more than 55 percent of the entire total for the first half of 2017.
Experts predict that China’s production capacity will reach 60 gigawatts in 2017; last year, capacity reached 48 gigawatts. The continued decrease in production costs — the average cost to manufacture a solar module is less than $0.12 per watt –contributes to the increased production.China’s increased production also results from strong local demand as well as from continued foreign demand, particularly from the United States.
Installed Solar Capacity and Curtailment of Solar Utilization
As of the end of June 2017, China had 101.82 gigawatts of installed solar photovoltaic capacity. However, utilization rates are only at 85 percent on average. And though the national curtailment rate was 37 billion kilowatt-hours as of the end of the first half, representing a reduction of 4.5 percent from the same time the previous year, some regions of the country still show high curtailment solar rates. Underutilization especially is high in the northwestern provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu, whereas much as 30 percent of available solar power is failing to meet the grid.
China’s continued surge in solar energy panel production is threatened, though, by more than just problems with underutilization. An ongoing trade dispute with the United States and a petition to impose tariffs threaten to make the U.S. market hostile to Chinese solar energy products.
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