Friday, January 2, 2015

I am excited about "Why 2015 Will Be the Year of Solar Energy"

You can see below that 10 states (not including Hawaii, where solar has long been cost-competitive) are now seeing residential solar systems cost-competitive with the grid, and by 2017 the estimated number jumps to 28 states. In 2015, a growing infrastructure from solar installers will bring solar to new states, expanding the industry's reach.

Expansion Plans Kicking into High Gear

The solar industry knows that more states are seeing competitive prices and is expanding quickly to fill the need, especially in the residential market. SolarCity (SCTY) and Vivint Solar (VSLR) install more than half of the residential solar systems installed in the U.S. today, and they both have big expansion plans in 2015.

SolarCity expects to grow from 168,000 customers in September 2014 to over 1 million customers by mid-2018. As the company showed in a recent presentation, its addressable market grows exponentially as it cuts costs. SolarCity's costs today, including sales and general costs, are $2.90 per watt, down 26 percent from just two years ago. If costs continue to fall at anywhere near that rate, the company should be able to keep growing.

Vivint Solar was founded just three years ago, but it's already grown into the second-largest solar installer in the country, with operations in seven states. Next year, it plans to open another 20 new sales and operations offices, growing beyond a high concentration in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

States to watch in the residential solar market next year include Nevada, Texas, and Florida, which have only been small players in residential and commercial solar until now but have high solar insolation and relatively high energy costs.

Rooftops Aren't the Only Place Solar Is Popping Up

Residential solar is getting most of the attention in the media, but it's actually large utility-scale projects where the biggest impact is coming. These projects account for over half of all solar installed, and states you'd never imagine are starting to see solar growth.

Minnesota, Colorado, North Carolina, and Oregon have made solar more cost-effective through policy that gives incentives for utilities to adopt solar and policies that make solar energy cost-effective and easy to connect to the grid. Growth in these states won't likely come on rooftops; it'll be ground-mounted small utility-scale projects that gain adoption, because they're lower-cost than residential solar.

And 2015 Is a Tipping Point

It's possible that 2015 will be the first year in which over half of new electricity generation capacity in the U.S. will come from solar. It's also likely that the industry will start to solve its intermittency issue, installing energy storage in a growing percentage of homes that decide to go solar. Both would be big milestones for the industry.

The potential growth for the solar industry isn't measured in billions of dollars, it's measured in trillions, and in 2015 we'll begin to see the industry's leaders take a larger role in our overall energy future and spread their wings across the country. Like it or not, solar energy is coming to a town near you.

No comments:

Post a Comment