Global solar energy and wind energy investment eclipsed fossil fuel energy investment in 2015 by a factor of 2 to 1. Despite record low oil and fossil fuel prices, renewable, clean energy has continued it's relentless march down the cost curve providing some of the lowest cost electricity anywhere. Bloomberg New Energy Finance's (BNEF) global Summit 2016 outlined many of the strong trends emerging in the sector.
The City of Cambridge, Ma announced the launch of a new residential solar power program on April 4th called "Sunny Cambridge". The new program will provide access to online tools and resources for residents to make educated choices about solar for their homes. Cambridge, MA is home to such powerhouse institutions as Harvard and MIT, along with the thriving research and high tech ecosystem surrounding these universities.
A new study just published shows that owner-purchased residential solar power systems can add a premium to a home's sales price. The report produced by the Appraisal Institute, a professional real estate appraisal journal, indicates that buyers are willing to pay an average selling premium of 3.75% or $14,329 for a home solar power system over a comparable house with conventional power. The study looked at six states, and normalized the analysis for comparable fair market value homes with available solar system data.
Sunrun Solar sent out a revised Consolidated Statement of Cash Flow for Q4 and Full year 2015 results. Solar Deployments grew by almost 200% and cost of product delivery declined by 17% according to the company's news release. Highlights include an 83% increase in Q4 deployments year over year, and 596 MW cumulative installed.
Residential home solar power was the fasted growing segment of the US solar industry, growing 66% in 2015 according to the just released "GTM Research/SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight" research report on the state of the solar industry. Just over 2 gigawatts (GW) of residential solar capacity was installed in 2015, compared to approximately 1.2 GW in 2014. Sometime in the first half of 2016 we should see the 1 millionth solar installation (all segments combined) in the US market.
Sunpower Corp. ( SPWR) announced today they have smashed installation times to a record two and a half times faster than the competition for Commercial Solar Panel Installations. The Sunpower Helix Roof ST system installs at over "33 panels per hour" according to the company, using an innovative "plug and play" architecture greatly simplifying installation while increasing reliability.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), a California Utility said in an announcement they hit a significant milestone for 2015 with 29.5% of retail electricity coming from renewable clean energy. That number actually exceeded the State targets of 23.3% for years 2014 through 2016, using a variety of generation sources, and puts them on track to achieve the very ambitious California State goals of 33% renewables by 2020, and 50% by 2013. The utility leads the nation with residential rooftop solar installations connected to the grid.
A new report this week by GTM Research indicates their analysis shows solar electricity is at or below cost parity in no less than 20 US States. This is a remarkable shift in the economics of solar cleantech in just a few short years. It has been widely known for quite some time that on a National level in the US, fossil fuel generated electricity has not had to "pay" for any of the negative externalities associated with their CO2 and pollution emmissions. Essentially receiving a "free ride" in the larger scheme of classical economic analysis. Solar photovoltaic panels on the other hand do not emit CO2 or pollution in the course of electricity generation. As such, they are a more "valuable" form of energy production, due to their clean nature, and hence their early higher cost. (A general rule of thumb is that the energy and emmissions required to manufacture and transport a solar panel is recouped after 18 to 24 months of electricity production). Many individual states have "portfolio mixes" of clean and dirty electricity, know as Renewable Portfolio Standards ( RPS), and the US Federal Clean Power Plan will be expanding this landscape over time.
The symbolism can't get much better. In southern West Virginia, a region known for its coal, a new rooftop solar energy system has been installed in Williamson and is now producing clean energy.