Utilities Fail to Mention the Billions Paid in Fossil Subsidies

by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC)

Last weekend, the New York Times took a look at changing GOP perspectives on solar – particularly rooftop solar – as more conservatives embrace renewables. The article highlights rooftop solar-supporting conservatives like Barry Goldwater Jr. and Tom Morrissey from Arizona, and Debbie Dooley from Georgia.  The piece describes a shift in GOP attitudes toward rooftop solar, which represents a competitive threat to monopoly utilities:

“One would not expect to see Barry Goldwater Jr., the very picture of modern conservatism and son of the 1964 Republican nominee for president, arguing passionately on behalf of solar energy customers. But there he was last fall, very publicly opposing a push by Arizona’s biggest utility to charge as much as $100 a month to people who put solar panels on their roofs.”

Debbie Dooley of the Green Tea Party Movement emphasizes a point that should be integral to all energy discussions:  “The [monopoly utilities] neglect to mention billions of dollars that the fossil-fuel industries have received.”

Yes – conveniently for utilities, they never talk about the tens of billions of dollars in permanent subsidies they’ve received over the past century. These fossil fuel subsidies are entrenched in the tax code.

For example, since the US began subsidizing energy, the average annual subsidy has been $4.86 billion for oil and gas and just $370 million for all renewable technologies (Source: “What Would Jefferson Do”).

One good example of these subsidies (there are many): Percentage depletion allows fossil fuel companies to take a substantial tax deduction (15% of gross revenue for oil and gas; 10% for coal) for using up reserves of natural resources. This costs the American taxpayer about $1 billion per year.

This graphic from the Environmental Law Institute summarizes the gap between fossil subsidies and solar subsidies well.

If utilities want to look at energy subsidies, let’s start with the oldest ones first. There are plenty of decades, or centuries, of fossil and nuclear subsidies that should be reconsidered.

Fossil fuel and Nuclear subsidies, per year, compared to renewable subsidies, per year.
Fossil fuel and Nuclear subsidies, per year, compared to renewable subsidies, per year.

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This article, Monopoly Utilities Neglect To Mention Billions In Fossil Fuel Subsidies, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC)The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) advocates for maintaining successful distributed solar energy policies, such as retail net metering, throughout the United States. Retail net metering (NEM) provides fair credit to residents, businesses, churches, schools, and other public agencies when their solar systems export excess energy to the grid. The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) was formed on the belief that anyone should have the option to switch from utility power to distributed solar power, and realize the financial benefits therein. The rooftop solar market has been largely driven by Americans’ desire to assert control over their electric bills, a trend that should be encouraged.

U.S. Solar Energy Industry Reports Record-Setting 3Q 2013

by Silvio Marcacci.

Solar panels were installed on more American residential rooftops in the 3rd Quarter of 2013 than any other quarter in history, pushing US installed solar capacity over the 10-gigawatt (GW) milestone and potentially ahead of Germany for the first time.

New U.S. Solar Photovoltaic Installations
New U.S. Solar Photovoltaic Installations. Image courtesy of SEIA.

This sunny picture comes courtesy of the US Solar Market Insight (SMI) Q3 2013 report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and it shines a spotlight on the economic power of America’s clean energy transition.

Overall solar installations continued to improve quarter-over-quarter across the US, delivering the second-largest quarter of overall installations in the history of America’s solar market.

US Installs 930MW Solar Energy In 3Q, May Pass Germany In 2013

America’s solar industry installed 930 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) panels in Q3 2013, 20% higher than Q2 2013 and 35% higher than Q3 2013. This blistering pace vaults America over the 10GW capacity mark to reach 10,250MW overall installed capacity across 400,000 solar projects – enough to power more than 1.7 million average US homes and the emissions equivalent of removing 2.1 million cars from the road.

3Q’s results are remarkable, but the US solar market might just be warming up.  The SMI report predicts 1,780MW of PV solar and 800MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) will be installed in 4Q 2013, meaning America will install over 5GW of new solar energy capacity in 2013 – 27% more than 2012 and a new single-year record.

Even more remarkable, SMI’s forecast means the US could install more overall solar capacity in 2013 than Germany, the world’s undisputed solar market leader. Germany is expected to install 4.2GW new solar capacity this year – placing second to another country for the first time in 15 years.

“Without a doubt, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the US solar industry,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO.

Cumulative Solar Photovoltaic installations by Quarter, U.S.A. vs. Germany
Cumulative Solar Photovoltaic installations by Quarter, U.S.A. vs. Germany. Image courtesy of SEIA.

Residential, Utility Installations Lead The Way

Residential solar led the 3Q charge with the market sector’s best-ever quarter, installing 186MW, up 45% compared to 2012. SMI credits favorable net metering policies for improving the economics of solar PV, but warns declining PV module prices could strain manufacturers while benefiting consumers.

The average price of PV panels have fallen more than 60% since the beginning of 2011 and now stands at a national average of $3.00 per installed watt.

“As solar continues its march toward ubiquity, the market will require continued innovation, efficiency improvement and regulatory clarity,” said Shayle Kann, GTM vice president of research.

The utility solar market sector also posted a strong quarter, with 52 projects completed for 539MW and over half of Q3’s total installed capacity. Unfortunately, the rising tide didn’t raise the boats of every industry sector – the non-residential (commercial) market is expected to remain flat through 2013 but may resume growth in 2014. California continues to lead the US solar PV market with 455MW installed in Q3, while Arizona placed second with 169MW installed.

2013 Total Installed Solar Photovoltaics -- by U.S. state. Image courtesy of SEIA.
2013 Total Installed Solar Photovoltaics — by U.S. state. Image courtesy of SEIA.

Solar’s Economic Impacts Ripple Across America

But best of all, As we’ve seen time and time again, the transition to a clean energy future also helps create green jobs. America’s solar industry led the US in green job creation during the third quarter, according to a recent report from E2, and had overall ripple effects across the overall economy.

119,000 workers are now employed at 6,100 businesses in the US solar industry, a 13.2% increase over 2011’s employment totals. Solar projects were valued at $11.5 billion by the end of 2012, up from $8.6 billion in 2011, and just $5 billion in 2010. With exponential growth continuing, it’s not hard to expect another overall valuation jump in 2013.

“This unprecedented growth is helping to create thousands of American jobs, save money for US consumers, and reduce pollution nationwide,” said Resch.

“Frankly, we’re just scratching the surface of our industry’s enormous potential.”

2013 Q3 Solar Facts. Image courtesy of SEIA.
2013 Q3 Solar Facts. Image courtesy of SEIA.

This article, US Solar Energy Industry Shines In Record-Setting 3Q 2013, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio MarcacciSilvio Marcacci is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar

by Zachary Shahan.

.

Originally published on Cost of Solar.

–> See how much money solar power could save you!

There are a lot of ways to evaluate the attractiveness of a place for renewable energy or solar energy investment, and to evaluate the best solar states. Of course, it depends on what factors and assumptions you take into account, as well as what segment of the market you are actually evaluating.

One of the leading evaluators of such markets is Ernst & Young (EY). The “professional services firm” recently released its most up-to-date renewable energy attractiveness indices for the US, including a solar energy index. The report includes solar market data for 2012 as well as a well-researched ranking of states by their solar energy investment attractiveness. The overall summary is clear, as we have been writing for months here on CostofSolar.com: the US solar market is booming.

US Solar Market Booming

“In 2012 the US installed 3,313 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, with 1,300 MW coming in Q4 alone, surpassing both annual and quarterly records. Even with falling costs the dollar value of the market size of the US solar industry grew 34% in 2012,” EY writes. “The cumulative total of solar PV in the US is now at 7,221 MW, with cumulative PV installations exceeding 300,000 individual units.”

A new solar panel installation is now occurring every 4 minutes in the US, according to an analysis from GTM Research.

Solar Leasing Is Hot

As I’ve reported a few times previously, solar leasing is hot. This is partly due to the fact that residential solar power has become quite cheap, and partly due to the fact that people are attracted to $0 down purchasing options, especially when the products (i.e., solar panels) save them money from Day 1. This makes going solar a no-brainer (even more than it already is).

EY writes: “Third-party ownership or leasing of rooftop solar PV systems in the US accounted for more than 50% of the residential and commercial market in 2012. Average residential system prices dropped nearly 20% between Q4 2011 and Q4 2012, and industry experts expect this segment of the market to surge as third-party financing options spread throughout the country.”

US Southwest Is Hot

The leading states are largely in the Southwest, thanks in part to its tremendous solar energy potential, but there are some outliers.

“The top five states for solar electric capacity installed in 2012 were California (becoming the first state to install over 1,000 MW in a single year), Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and North Carolina, while the leaders in cumulative solar capacity installed through 2012 were California, Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and Colorado.”

The 10 most attractive states for solar energy investment, according to EY, are now:

Best Solar States For Return On Investment (ROI)

Overall, I find the EY report very useful, as it includes fairly comprehensive policy and market analyses, and even does so for the top solar states.

However, as people who have read me for awhile know, I’m a big fan of relative rankings… of which there are very few. Looking at absolute rankings such as total solar power capacity, you miss who is leading the way on a per capita or per GDP basis. And you miss which states offer the best return on investment for a single residential solar power system.

If you’re curious about the latter, you may have noticed that we’ve already shared a great ranking on that, which changed the above order a bit to come up with this top 10 ranking:

  1. Hawaii — 24% IRR
  2. DC (if you want to include it) — 20% IRR
  3. New York — 17% IRR
  4. Connecticut — 16% IRR
  5. Colorado — 15% IRR
  6. Massachusetts — 15% IRR
  7. New Mexico — 13% IRR
  8. California — 12% IRR
  9. South Carolina – 12% IRR
  10. Delaware – 12% IRR
Best Solar States Per Capita

At the end of 2012, the top solar states for installed solar power per capita ranking shuffles the top solar states around yet again:

top-solar-states-per-capita-total

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

top-solar-power-states-per-capita-total-solar

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

Best Solar States… Depends On Your Aims

In the end, I think all of this data is quite interesting. And it offers useful lessons of different types. The EY ranking is certainly useful to investors and major companies who want to figure out the policies and market of one or more states in order to invest in solar projects for the best return on investment (ROI). It also helps show how large states and even countries can better promote solar power.

The solar ROI study briefly mentioned after that is actually useful for the same thing (through slightly different data and research). But it’s also useful for individual homeowners or small businesses who are considering the switch to solar.

And the per capita rankings show us who the true state leaders are, showing us which states’ solar or electricity policies would be most worth emulating.

But, really, for our main audience (the common Joe), there’s simply one thing to do: find out how much solar power could save you, get connected to the best installer for your money in your region, and go solar so that you can start savings tens of thousands of dollars off your electricity bills.

The longer you wait to make the switch, the more money you are throwing away on dirty power from a monopolistic utility company. And the fact is, you can get an estimate of how much you’d save in less time than it takes to watch another cat video or Gangnam Style.

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This article, Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

US Adds 976MW new Solar PV Capacity In 2Q as California Sets Record

by Silvio Marcacci — Special to JBS News

The US solar photovoltaic (PV) industry just keeps shining, with rising demand across the country pushing installed capacity in second quarter (2Q) 2013 up 24% compared to first quarter (1Q) 2013.

America added 976 megawatts (MW) of new solar PV capacity just in 2Q 2013 alone, according to the NPD Solarbuzz North America PV Markets Quarterly report.

Solar PV demand is expected to continue growing through 2013, but roughly 75% of this new capacity is concentrated in just five states – evidence of the impact smart state policy can have on renewable energy.

US solar PV 2Q 2013 capacity additions by state
US solar PV 2Q 2013 capacity additions chart via NPD Solarbuzz.

Solar PV Demand Growing Fast

The 976MW of new solar PV capacity installed across the country in 2Q could power US solar markets toward a supercharged 2013. 2Q’s installed capacity was 24% higher than 1Q’s 788MW. Utilities led the way with 59% of all projects, and 72% were ground-mounted systems concentrated mainly in several large-scale projects across the Western US.

NPD Solarbuzz predicts solar PV demand will grow 14% to 1.04GW in third quarter (3Q) 2013 en route to an 17% annual increase in PV demand across the US compared to 2012, for a total of 4.22GW new annual installed capacity.

That’s an impressive amount, no doubt, but the best may still be yet to come. An estimated 44GW of commercial and utility projects are in the development pipeline, including 2,300 projects of 50 kilowatts and higher — with more than half of those on commercial locations. At this rate, NPD Solarbuzz predicts the US will be home to 20% of total global solar PV demand within five years.

Growth Concentrated In Just A Few States

But even though the American solar industry’s outlook is brighter than ever, the resulting growth is shining squarely on just a handful of states. California represented a whopping 53% of all 2Q solar PV capacity addition, reaffirming its position as the epicenter of the US clean tech market.”

“California alone reached 521MW, which is a new record for PV added by any state in the US for a three-month period,” said Finlay Colvile of NPD Solarbuzz. “California has added 1.6GW in the past 12 months, with a further 1.1GW forecast for the second half of the year.”

North Carolina, which has fought against efforts to roll back the state renewable energy standard, ranked second with 8% of all 2Q additions. 285MW of new solar PV capacity will come online in the state over 2013, an 80% increase compared to 2012, and demand is forecast to grow an additional 30% in 2014.

New Jersey, which recently became the third state to pass 1GW installed solar, followed close behind at 7%. Arizona and Texas rounded out the top five at 6% and 4% respectively, while eight other states combined for 28% of all remaining solar PV capacity additions.

How Hot Will Solar PV’s Future Get?

The NPD Solarbuzz report once again illuminates the economic and environmental benefits that renewables can create when governments set and maintain progressive policies. America’s solar surge has already pushed it into the ultra-exclusive 10GW installed solar PV club, and it’s helping power green jobs growth across the country.

Falling costs have been the main driver of demand, but state incentives and regulations have remained a steadying hand and dictated where growth has occurred. Consumers could save $20 billion annually by 2050 if solar continues to grow, and every single state in America has the potential to generate more electricity from solar energy than it uses in a single year. Here’s hoping more states will see the light.

This article, US Adds 976MW New Solar PV Capacity In 2Q As California Sets Record, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

 

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