Thursday, August 18

The Growing Reach of Solar Energy

2015 is expected to be the year of solar power, with lower costs and technology improvements bringing solar energy to new areas all over the country. As of 2014, 10 states have residential solar power available that costs the same or less than local electricity. Hawaii was not included in this count, as solar energy has been cost-competitive there for a long time. By 2017, that number is expected to jump to 28 states — over half the nation!

One of the keys to expanding the solar energy market is competitive pricing, and companies are striving to fulfill that goal. Solar energy makes up just 1% of electricity generation worldwide, so the market is wide open for new firms to enter.

To compete with newcomers, existing firms are improving technology, and adding storage options and expanding into new states. Financing options such as leases with $0 down payment and low-interest loans are becoming more flexible and inclusive to entice new customers, and as costs of production drop, so do prices.

“New kinds of financing have made solar power more accessible for large numbers of people,” says Katherine Fisher, Chief Business Development Officer, Great Sky Solar. “In Massachusetts, we are especially excited about the new DOER loan, which will make solar ownership more accessible and keep more money in homeowners’ pockets.”

While residential solar energy is growing at a rapid pace, larger utility projects are also expected to make leaps forward this year. In states where solar energy growth is not the obvious choice, such as Colorado, Minnesota, and North Carolina, government incentives are making it easier than ever for utilities to adopt solar power and promote connections to mainstream grids. Instead of being mounted on rooftops, these projects will install lower-cost, ground-mounted utility systems, making the entire system more cost effective.

With solar energy growing from 29% of new energy generation capacity in 2013 to 36% in 2014, it is very likely that 2015 will be the year that solar energy makes up 50% of new energy in the United States. With more options in energy installation providers and customization options within the services they provide, solar energy is well on its way to becoming a mainstream power in 2015.

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