Solar power is booming in the U.S. Solar prices are on the decline, and while photovoltaic (PV) units are still expensive, prices should continue to drop. Here’s a brief breakdown on solar prices in the U.S.
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Solar Power on the Rise in the U.S.
• In the U.S. from 2010 to 2013, the total amount of PV solar installations grew by 485%.
• From 2011 to 2013, solar accounted for 16% of electricity capacity installed yearly. That number jumped to 30 % in 2013.
• In Arizona, California and Nevada, solar supplies 2% of total electrical needs in each state.
• In 2014, solar power across the nation grew by 6.2 gigawatts. This represents a 30% increase from 2013, as well as $18 billion in investments.
• 645,000 businesses and residences throughout the country installed solar power in 2014.
• Solar installation costs have dropped by 73% since 2006. Residential costs for solar on homes has dropped by 45% since 2010.
• The drop in price is in part thanks to tax incentives and breaks like the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). An extension of tax credits by Congress, including a $1.14 trillion budget, has helped to lower costs.
• As of 2014, thanks to tax credits and cheaper panels, rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels cost 50% of what they did three years ago.
Why the Drop in Price?
Economies of scale and new tech: Global solar panel production increased from 24,000 MW in 2010 to 40,000 MW in 2013. Cheaper production costs and new, easier to manufacture (and cheaper) solar panel units manufactured in China have helped lower costs dramatically.
Federal Tax Credit: Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit offers a return of 30% of the purchase price on solar. This has helped to dramatically cut costs.
Net Metering: PV owners can receive credit on utility bills for excess electricity that they generate. Forty-three states and the District of Colombia have this in place.
Solar Carve-Outs: Some states have made it a requirement for state utilities to invest in solar. For example, Colorado requires that 3% of the state’s electricity will be generated by distributed generation (e.g. solar) by 2020.
Value-of-Solar Tariffs: Some owners receive payment that’s based on the value of the total benefits that their solar systems offer.
State Tax Incentives and Bbreaks: Aside from the 30 % federal tax credits, a number of states offer tax incentives or breaks for solar owners, including property tax exemptions.
Making Solar Cheaper
Tax incentives, more affordable solar technologies, and cuts in soft costs will help to make solar cheaper and more readily available.
The White House is working to make solar more affordable for the masses. In August 2015, President Obama proposed a number of “executive actions and private sector commitments,” including
• Making $1 billion in loan guarantee authority available with new guidelines for distributed energy projects that will use new tech.
• Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for solar projects for single-family homes, along with new community programs to help homeowners understand how they can make homes more energy efficient.
• The White House also announced that $24 million would be available for 11 solar projects in seven different states. These projects will help to develop new solar technologies.
In addition to these programs, new solar panels are also being developed. For example, one company is designing solar panels that use perovskite. This material is ultra-thin (thickness is measured in billionths of a meter), and it’s believed that these solar units will be 40 % cheaper and 50 % more efficient than standard units today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]