Every quarter, our ConveYour team assembles a newsletter digest of the biggest news, trends, and developments in the world of residential solar. This newsletter is sent out to our subscribers before it gets posted on the site.
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Solar News Off the Top
- Solar panel manufacturer Maxeon announced its plans to open a new solar cell and module factory in Albequerque, NM. This record-setting facility would be Maxeon’s first in the United States.
- Solar scientists in Korea have discovered a new revolution in making efficient photovoltaic thermal systems: fish oil.
- Inc released its annual list of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. Among those on the list are Kayo Energy, Everlight Solar, Ion Solar, and LGCY Power!
- The annual RE+ Trade Show took place in Las Vegas this September. This clean energy-centric event had over 40,000 attendees. RE+ 2024 has already been announced, and you can sign up for updates here.
- Titan Solar Power partnered with GivePower Trek to provide solar installation to the Mwachome Primary School in Kwale County, Kenya.
Did You Know?
The Vanguard 1, the first artificial earth satellite powered by solar cells, remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit. To date, it has logged more than 6 billion miles.
Around the World, Residential Solar SMASHES Records
Every quarter, we summarize the top headlines in the world of residential solar, and it feels like there is always one key takeaway: solar's growth can't be stopped. If you thought that trend was going to be broken this quarter...I'm not sure what to tell you. In fact, I thought we could take a step back and look at just how powerful the solar industry has become in recent years, in spite of pandemics, supply chain problems, regulations, recessions, labor shortages...
First, let's get the big picture. Over the first six months of 2023, solar made up two-thirds of total renewable investment WORLDWIDE, up a staggering 43% year-over-year. Solar energy deployment alone now makes up 0.5% of GDP, GLOBALLY. On a worldwide scale, there are no signs of slowing down for solar. In fact, Benzinga considers residential solar specifically to be the fastest growing industry of 2031, according to current trends.
Next, let's take a trip to Europe. As a whole, solar installation is experiencing near-exponential growth. For example, the EU has increased its solar deployment by a whopping 47% year-over-year, totaling 41.4GW. That is enough capacity to power 12.4 million homes! Germany leads the continent for solar generation, followed closely by Spain, Poland, and The Netherlands. Solar, among other renewables, was credited for helping Europe endure a record-breaking heatwave this past summer.
Next, let's head down under to the wonderful land of Australia, where rooftop solar is making massive gains, snatching demand from the coal industry nationwide. In fact, in the month of September, rooftop solar demand caused coal-fired power demand to reach record lows not once, but twice! In Southern Australia, rooftop solar made up OVER 100% of electricity demand during September. Southern Australia is widely considered one of the strongest regions for renewables in the world, and for good reason!
At this point, you may be wondering how things are going in the ol' U. S. of A. Continue onward, dear reader...
Did You Know?
In the last eight years, solar installation in the United States has grown by 23 times!
Solar Near You!
As per usual, The United States is home to a wide variety of positions and policies as they relate to solar. In Q1 of 2023 alone, 41 states enacted 173 policy actions around solar, both good and bad.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Funds from the Inflation Reduction Act are making their way to states, opening the doors for community-based solar projects across the country. New Jersey has passed new limits on eligible project rooftops (a sign of interest in well-regulated community solar) while Maryland expanded the wattage limit for community solar projects that meet certain criteria.
Prince William County in Virginia announced that they will be waiving all county fees for residential solar installations - saving buyers $1.2 million. Not to be bested, Cook County, Illinois announced $3 million in funding to fund solar installations for income-qualified customers. These reflect a trend toward expanding solar access to lower-income areas.
Los Angeles, Austin, TX, and the State of Vermont have all announced their intention to exceed 90% renewable power by the year 2030. Turning our eyes to California, where 33% of US solar power is generated, The Orange County Register has commended the state for working to "Cut the red tape to buy solar." However...
THE BAD NEWS:
Solar installations in California are still roughly double the cost of similar projects in other states. This is commonly blamed on outdated permitting processes, staff shortages, and generally inflated cost of living in the state. California has also continued to be criticized for its NEM 3.0 solar tariff, which drastically impacted savings for residential solar customers.
Not every locality is thrilled about the expansion of solar in general. Seven different counties in Virginia have adopted restrictions around solar over the past year, and at least eleven Ohio counties have prohibited renewable energy projects on unincorporated land. Connecticut and Maryland have adopted restrictions requiring state approval for even small-scale solar projects.
According to PV Magazine, the only states that introduced zero restrictions around renewables were Alaska, Arizona, and Mississippi.
Solar Energy Storage - The Future?
More and more, the conversation around solar energy storage has been dominating the news in the industry. It makes sense - as we generate more solar as a society, we're going to need more capacity to store all that power. Many solar companies have seen this for the opportunity that it is - but could energy storage really be the next big thing?
In short...yes. Upgraded energy storage, especially in a residential setting, has a ton of benefits. Homeowners, of course, have access to reserves of power generated by their panels. In states that are cutting net metering credits, homeowners can simply store their own energy instead of returning it to the grid. Widespread storage adoption allows for virtual power plants - networks of power generators, storage, and consumers. Imagine an electric grid but without fossil fuels.
Lots of companies have already taken note of this opportunity and are taking steps to capitalize. After all, when the estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for this industry reaches a stunning 19.6%, there is bound to be interest and investment. A lot of the big names in solar have already gotten involved - Sunrun, Enphase, Tesla, SolarEdge, and many more.
"Government policies are playing an important role in incentivizing investments and capacity expansion. Last year’s US Inflation Reduction Act has catalyzed renewable and clean tech expansion, boosting expected solar and onshore wind capacity."
- Rystad Energy
Solar Spotlight: Sunrun Solar
This quarter’s Solar Industry Company Spotlight goes out to none other than Sunrun Inc.! This California-based company was founded in 2007 by a small group of businesspeople who wanted to get solar into the hands of more consumers through the use of a Power Purchase Agreement. Their choice of business model paid off, and Sunrun has experienced massive, exponential growth in the years since.
Currently, Sunrun operates in over 175 cities in 22 states, as well as Puerto Rico. With over 15 years of experience working in the solar energy field, Sunrun has established nationwide name recognition and prestige. In 2023 alone, the company and its 4,000+ employees were able to add 990MW worth of new installations, and have in total worked with 800,000 customers to install 5.7GW worth of new solar capacity.
Sunrun, from the beginning, has been committed to expanding solar access to as many households as possible. To that end, they recently announced the completion of a 10-building, 270-household solar project in The Bronx, NY, serving low-income families in partnership with local solar suppliers and charitable organizations. The next installation will cover an additional 267 families and expand into Manhattan and Brooklyn.
“You don’t resist innovation that consumers want and that can improve society. You figure out how to lean into it.”
- Mary Powell, Sunrun CEO
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