First it was the tariffs. Then it was the trade wars. Now it’s the increasingly contentious (and seemingly inevitable) fight between the solar industry and the utilities that provide electricity in the United States.
But despite its difficulties, solar remains as popular as ever among residential system owners, and they are spreading the word. So in the face of all of its challenges, what must the solar industry do to maintain its extraordinary growth rate?
Does solar remain popular in the United States?
A recent Gallup poll indicated Americans still love solar energy, despite the headwinds the industry has faced from policymakers at the state and federal levels. Residential installations continue to increase year after year, despite tariffs, trade wars and tiffs over net metering.
The poll found that nearly 75% of U.S. citizens support solar and are ready to support policies to increase its penetration levels in their states. In addition, most Americans say they want more investment in solar and storage technologies than in traditional fossil-fueled energy forms like oil and coal.
To say the United States has reached the tipping point at which solar becomes the most logical electricity source is understating the case.
Which states are solar friendly?
You only have to look at recent headlines out of states like South Carolina, Maine, and Kentucky to find legislatures (and individual legislators) that are trying to make taking consumers energy future into their own hands more difficult.
Whether it’s tinkering with the central policy of net metering or putting arbitrary caps on the amount of solar that can be installed, the obstacles on the local and state level seem to be multiplying.
But consumers don’t have to accept opposition to solar as par for the course. Every state has pro-solar groups operating in it, whether it’s the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund or (our favorite) Solar United Neighbors. Consumers can join with like-minded solar enthusiasts to lobby their local and state legislators. They won’t support solar unless they know it’s important to consumers.
And it works—more than 50 cities and one entire state have committed to using 100% renewable energy within the next 10 years thanks to lobbying by the Sierra Club. Consumers shouldn’t be a passive member of their own solar revolution. They should get involved.
Click here for a state-by-state guide to what solar incentives are available in each state.
How quickly will affordable storage be available?
The short answer is soon—and you don’t have to look too far to figure it out.
After all, utilities are installing more solar than ever before, and they wouldn’t be investing in it if they thought it would lose them money. And increasingly, whether it’s the Tesla battery-storage project in Hawaii or the California public utilities commission’s decision to require its utilities to start incorporating battery storage into their long-term planning, the case for energy storage has already been won.
What’s even more exciting are recent reports that prices for battery storage, which in the past has been an obstacle to their installation, are plummeting even more quickly than solar module prices did, which means solar battery storage may soon become a standard option on most residential installations—and homeowners won’t even have to think twice.
It will coincide also with a flood of electric vehicles being released on to the market that will be similar in cost of fossil fuel burning gas car initially, and then significantly cheaper than gas powered cars as innovations in their production continue.
So should homeowners go solar?
It’s our opinion that all American homeowners that have a suitable roof should be buying at least a grid connect solar system right now. And although we’d advise homeowners to hold off on buying storage—our research indicates it’s going to become cheaper in the next six months to two years—homeowners should make sure their system is easily retrofitted so that once storage is available, they can easily add it to their system.
It may be the most exciting time for homeowners to be contemplating putting solar on their home than ever before—we recommend they move quickly.
Written by Andrew Sendy, CEO SolarReviews