The solar energy sector is booming in spite of attempts by some utilities and government administrations to thwart it. As more people become environmentally conscious, including not only individuals but governmental leaders as well, this growth will only accelerate. After experiencing steady increases in solar installations for over the last 10 years industry analysts forecast exponential growth over the next five years or more.
The Solar Energy Industry Association has stated that the Solar Investment Tax Credit passed by the federal government in 2006 has helped fuel the growth of solar energy and that the average annual growth rate over the last 10 years has been 50%.
According to SEIA, solar PV capacity grew by nearly 11 gigawatts or GW in 2018 which brings the current total to over 64 GW, enough to power one of every 10 homes in the U.S. By 2024 the PV capacity in the country is projected to double adding more than 15 GW of PV annually.
“The increased use of renewable energy sources will also assist the U.S. in becoming more financially independent. Because the cost of solar has decreased so significantly over the years and because the prices of fossil fuels, and consequently electricity, costs have skyrocketed, the return on investment for home and business owners who install PV systems continues to rise,” said the COO of Green Solar Technologies, Edward Harner.
The forward thinkers that have installed solar to date have seen a fairly rapid return on their investment, considering the availability of sunlight and the price of the photovoltaic system. Most systems are good for 25 years of service and people have reported seeing returns as early as 5 years.
Currently only 1% of the total power generation across the globe is derived from solar energy, as stated in an article by Travis Hoium in the Motley Fool. Statistics from the United States Energy Information Administration show power generation in the U.S. to be at 1.6% solar energy. This not only shows that the country is becoming more committed to moving to renewables but also shows how much room there is for growth.
Along with the stellar growth of the solar energy industry utility companies are getting more of their power needs met by solar. This makes them averse in some cases to incentivize the customers they serve to have solar panels installed on their homes and businesses. In areas that have renewable energy mandates there are many utilities implementing net metering to their customers due to requirements to derive a minimum percentage of energy production from solar.
The utility companies that are resisting the inevitable coming of solar to the forefront of energy production are fighting a losing battle. As the cost of solar energy keeps dropping, more people are realizing that going solar is not only good for the environment but good for their wallet as well.
In spite of the unwillingness to cooperate with the solar industry by some utilities and even the current President and his administration, solar energy is on the verge of unprecedented growth that will only increase with a more environmentally conscious leader in 2020. Federal incentives that were put in place 13 years ago remain and many state and local governments are being even more aggressive at incentivizing the use of solar and wind energy.
Most Americans are becoming more conscious about climate change and the environment along with the awareness of the benefits of solar. As more regions across the U.S. make firm commitments to transition to renewable energy, the only direction for the solar industry is up.